Kolkata: An Air Force officer was on Wednesday killed after being hit by a speeding car during the Republic Day rehearsal parade here.
The incident happened at about 6.30 am at Red Road when an Audi car appeared on the road at high speed and hit the Air Force officer, a defence official said.
The road is normally closed for civilian traffic during the rehearsal but the car raced towards Corporal Abhimanyu Gaud, the Air Force drill instructor supervising the parade, knocked him off his feet and continued to move at high speed till it hit a barricade and came to a halt, the official said.
The Air Force personnel sustained injuries and was rushed to a military hospital where the doctors declared him dead.
The official said that the driver left the car and ran away.
The car has been seized by the police which is investigating the case. Before fleeing, the driver of the car scrapped the papers bearing the temporary registration number, both from the front and the rear end, in order to hide the identity of the vehicle owner, a senior officer of Kolkata Police said.
The police, however, recovered the "challan" of the registration number from one of the cabinets inside the car. Before leaving the car near the South Gate of Fort
William on Kidderpore Road, the driver sprayed strong perfume inside and outside the brand new white coloured Audi, which was possibly meant to cover up the "smell of liquor", the officer said.
"As per the challan, the Audi car was bought only a couple of days back. We are trying to get in touch with the owner of the vehicle from its chasis number," he said.
Besides top Kolkata Police officers, Kolkata Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha rushed to the spot. Purkayastha described it as an "unprecedented" incident.
"It is an unprecedented thing ...breaking the grid rails. We have gone through the CCTV footages of the place and found that there was only one person inside the car. We are looking into every aspect of the incident," Purkayastha said after inspecting the car.
Sources in the Kolkata Traffic Police told PTI that the Audi was initially stopped while it was trying to get onto the flyover leading to Vidyasagar Setu.
"The driver took a U-turn on the flyover itself and drove down taking the wrong lane. It was on high speed, broke one signal and then broke the guard rail in front of the South Gate of Fort William and rushed towards Red Road where vehicular entry was prohibited for a few hours in the morning because of the rehearsal," the officer said.
An FIR has been lodged by Defence officials in connection with the incident at the Maidan Police Station, the police officer said.
"We have alerted all the police stations surrounding the area and have started search operations for the driver. Checking at all the entry and exit points have been beefed up so that he cannot run away," the officer said.
Copies of the photo of the driver taken from the CCTV footage have been distributed to police personnel in this connection, he said.