Where they lost their music

A tabla player loses an arm at Moolchand under pass in an accident while his sister loses her leg


Shivani Chaturvedi | June 29, 2010

The Moolchand underpass
The Moolchand underpass

For Vijay Singh, a 27-year-old tabla player, Moolchand is where he came close to losing his life and most definitely lost his livelihood. He lost his left arm in an accident at the underpass. A truck ran over his arm when he fell from his scooter after it hit a bump on a half-constructed patch of the underpass. His sister Kalpana Chauhan, a trained classical singer, was riding on the pillion. The doctors at the Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre of AIIMS had to amputate her right leg to save her.

On their ride back to their Sector 55 home in Noida last Saturday evening, the accident forced a detour.

Now, Kalpana lies on a bed  in a AIIMS ward, a respirator helping her breathe. Her brother has not made it out of the ICU yet.


Kalpana Chauhan kept her voice but has lost her leg

The sibilings' cousin Devendra Rawat sits by Kalpana's bed. Typical to eyes brimming with tears, his glisten.

Kalpana never lost her voice - whether as a ten-year-old beating back her fear singing infront of an audience or as an accomplished playback in Garhwali movies. Even as an accident victim trying to get aid. She had called her husband Rajendra and had informed him about the accident before passing out from the pain, Rawat informs.

The siblings had been performing together since the last nine years - part of a troupe - directed by Kalpana's husband. They had taken to the stage at several performances in Uttarakhand and the NCR. But pain hits a different note than their family.

Originally from Paudi Garhwal, their family is settled in Noida. Today, a grieving mother, elder brother and siter-in-law pray between visits to the hospitals for the siblings' lives.

"I am really worried for them, especially for Vijay," Devendra mumbles through his grief.

Few who take care of loved ones when they are this unwell would miss the almost imperceptible gestures they make in their helplessness. Sure enough, Devendra is by Kalpana's side as she makes the slightest of gestures. He takes her oxygen mask off for a moment as he gives her some water.

The music has faded away from this family's life. At least for now.

Double blow for the family of an ' unknown man'

Keshav Dutt Ojha's death is the fifth of the five that happened over an equal number of days (ending Monday) at the Moolchand underpass. Ojha was run over by a BLueline bus when his bike swerved out of control and fell on the uneven stretch of the underpass.

While a speeding Blueline is the easiest target for stoning, the halfdone road-repairs at the underpass are an indicting testimony of the PWD's criminal neglect.

“He was the youngest of the three brothers and was mother’s darling,” says Ram Chandra, Ojha's eldest brother. He had come from Nepal for last rites of his brother on Tuesday.

Keshav, a native of district Baitadi in Nepal was living in Delhi for more than 10 years.  He was serving as priest at Sanatan Dharm Mandir in East Punjabi Bagh and was also residing there. He is survived by his parents, two elder brothers, pregnant wife and two-and-a-half year old son.  His family members live in Nepal. Keshav’s wife and child were staying with him in Delhi but had gone to the village about four months back as his wife required proper care at that time.

Keshav’s cousin Vanshidhar Bhatt who is living in Adarsh Nagar locality says, on Monday evening Keshav was on his way to Faridabad, to pick up snacks from a relative’s place sent by his wife. At 7 pm a friend Pashupati called on Keshav’s mobile to ask him where he was as he was required at the temple at that time for performing daily rituals. “But instead of Keshav somebody else picked up the phone and told that Keshav is admitted in AIIMS Trauma Centre,” says Bhatt. After that Keshav’s mobile was switched off. “My younger brother rushed to the Centre. I called on 100 number to know what exactly happened. But I couldn’t get any information. The worst part was that the authorities kept the body as unidentified and inspite of telling them that he was our relative they were just not bothered.”At 11 pm sub inspector of Lajpat Nagar police station came and told how a bus hit Keshav after he fell from his bike at Moolchand underpass and died.  Keshav’s belongings like bike key’s, ATM card, LIC papers and helmet were missing from the spot.  

Uddhav Dev Ojha was shocked with the untimely death of his younger brother. And police’s attitude added to his grief. “Why did they make an 'unknown' certificate for my brother?" he asked.

His eldest brother is a teacher in higher secondary school and the other brother is running a chemist shop. They both now hope that their income will be sufficient to provide for their younger brother's family.

Delhi Police file case against "unknown persons" for road accident deaths

The callousness of public works department (PWD) officials have claimed five lives in Delhi over the last five days. A patch of road it has left unfixed at the busy Moolchand underpass in south Delhi has caused fatal accidents, but police have filed cases only against  ‘unknown persons’ rather than fixing the responsibility.

Police registered a case of "death due to negligence" against "unknown persons" after the latest fatality on Monday.

Ashok Agarwal, a lawyer and social jurist, blames the Delhi government for these deaths. “The erring junior engineers and other officers of the PWD should be booked under Section 304 and there should be departmental action against them,” he adds.

Agarwal says that there is no excuse for such negligence on the PWD’s part. There should be police prosecution as this is a technical matter, he adds. “The government should give them heavy compensation of at Rs 50 lakh and the erring officers should be immediately suspended,” he says.

News reports have noted that these accidents could have been avoided had the PWD put up warning signs at the spot.

Rohit Baluja, president of the Institute of Road Traffic Education, says this was an example of gross negligence on the part of road authorities to warn users. “The issue is much bigger than just the Moolchand underpass. There are many roads in Delhi which are under construction ahead of the Commonwealth Games and which do not have any warning signs,” he adds.

He says that there are no signs, no segregations and there is maximum vulnerability for accidents on such roads. “There are so many accidents in this city which go unnoticed and most of them are always blamed on the road user,” Baluja adds.

Police must book a case of negligence against the road authorities or the contractors under the Indian Penal Code, says Baluja. “Ideally the police shouldn’t wait for an accident to happen before they book a case of negligence. A case should be registered in the absence of road signs wherever there is construction going on,” he adds.

“The Supreme Court states clearly that road authorities have to pay if an accident happens, so they should be made to pay,” says Baluja.



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