Rautahat, August 19
After the condition of his daughter-in-law didn’t improve, Ramsewak Yadav had bundled labouring Sharmiladevi into a jeep and sent her along with her husband and other family members to Rajpur Primary Health Centre for child delivery. But little did he know he was sending them into the jaws of death.
Sharmiladevi Yadav, 26, her husband Chandrakishor Yadav, their daughter Arushi, mother Sumitradevi, aunt Lalitadevi, cousins Saroj and Rajan of Rautahat’s Paroha Rural Municipality-3, Laukaha died when the jeep carrying them sank in floodwaters on the road along Gandak canal. The accident site is near Rajpur’s Damar Chowk, just 200 metres from the health centre.
Six of the eight people on board the jeep died in the accident on the night of August 13. Ever since the accident, a pall of gloom has descended over Yadav’s family.
A week after the tragedy, father Ramsewak Yadav’s eyes are still wet. Five-year-old Sanju frequently asks her grandfather when her parents would come home, but the distraught grandfather doesn’t have any answer. Sharmila was expecting her third child.
“The road was awash with the floods from the Lal Bakaiya River and nothing seemed wrong but the floods had already breached the road that night,” recounted Rajan, who was saved in the accident. “There were people on the road but nobody warned us about the danger lying ahead and as the jeep sank in the floodwaters,” he lamented.
“As the front part was sinking I somehow managed to open the front door and climbed on the roof of the jeep and so did the driver. We cried for help but to no avail as neither the people nearby nor the police came to our rescue,” Rajan shared. “Though I rushed to the police for help, they instead arrested me, not heeding my request to rescue those who were dying,” the driver bemoaned, adding there were chances that some of those dead could have been rescued alive had the police swung into action on time.
Chndrakishor was a teacher at the local Brahmajyoti Higher Secondary School.
His father Ramsewak had carried out the final rites of the dead the same night.
Meanwhile, locals have blamed the police for the deaths. Civil Society senior vice-chairperson and senior citizen association district chair Bijaya Kishor Jha said the incident has left the entire district in mourning.
A version of this article appears in print on August 20, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.