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Sisters’ reunion ends in deaths

3 die, 2 critical as bus rams into Bengal holidaymakers’ vehicle in Kerala

By Subhasish Chaudhuri in Bongaon

  • Published 20.10.19, 12:53 AM
  • Updated 20.10.19, 12:53 AM
The sisters pose for a picture in Thiruvananthapuram. The picture had been sent by Sobha on WhatsApp hours before the accident
The sisters pose for a picture in Thiruvananthapuram. The picture had been sent by Sobha on WhatsApp hours before the accident

Five sisters from Bengal on a long-cherished holiday reunion met with disaster in Kerala on Friday evening when three of them were crushed to death and two others suffered grievous injuries when their Toyota Innova was hit by a bus while travelling to Kochi from Thiruvananthapuram.

Kerala police said the accident happened on National Highway 47 when the five elderly siblings — four residents of Bongaon in North 24-Parganas and one of Calcutta — were travelling through the Ambalappuzha area of Alappuzha district, best known for its houseboat cruises on backwaters.

Alappuzha police chief K.M. Tomy told The Telegraph over phone that a Kerala State Transport Corporation bus that was coming from the opposite direction rammed into the Innova while trying to overtake an autorickshaw. “Two women died on the spot. The three others were rescued by the police and rushed to a hospital in Vandanam along with the injured driver of the car. One of the three women succumbed to her injuries later,” Tomy said.

The police have arrested the driver of the bus. He was produced before a court on Saturday and taken into police remand, the SP said.

The three deceased sisters have been identified as Gita Roy, 62, Mita Burman, 58, and Sobha Biswas, 55. Gita was a resident of Calcutta, while the two others hailed from different areas of Bongaon. All the five women were homemakers.

Laxmi Biswas, 53, and Kakali Bhadra, 51, are fighting for life at the Vandanam hospital. An officer of Ambalappuzha police station said the two women were still unconscious and had been kept in the ICU. They have suffered multiple injuries, including head wounds, and their condition was stated to be very critical.

After Kerala police informed family members about the accident, several of them rushed to Ambalappuzha on Saturday morning.

The five sisters had left for Thiruvananthapuram by train from Shalimar on October 15 for a weeklong tour of Kerala. The sisters, who did not get the chance to come together often, had been planning the vacation for a long time.

The families of four sisters have various businesses, while Kakali’s family is into farming.

The sisters had reached Kerala on Thursday. They had been travelling to Kochi for sightseeing on Friday when they met with the accident.

Malay Biswas, Sobha’s son, said: “My mother had a very strong bonding with all my aunts. The second among the sisters, Mita, was the leader of the group. They had been planning a reunion-cum-vacation in Kerala for long.

“We made arrangements for their tour and they had reached Kerala safely. I had spoken to my mother on Friday morning. She had told me about their sightseeing plans. A few hours later when I called her again, a police officer received the call and informed me about the accident.”

Malay said the sisters had visited nearby places together but had never travelled outside Bengal.

Ambalappuzha police said the bus had been travelling at a high speed.

“Considering the gravity of the incident, I have categorically directed the local police to start a case against the bus driver under Section 304 of the IPC, which deals with culpable homicide not amounting to murder,” Tomy, the police chief, said.

“I have also made it clear to the state transport authorities that the driver will not be spared,” he added.

The district police chief said he had visited the local police station and spoken to the officers and directed them to arrange for the handover of the bodies to the family members after the autopsies.