Moga, Punjab: A 14-year-old girl and her mother begged for help as a group of men tried to molest them on a moving bus in Moga, 170 km from Chandigarh. Finally, they were pushed off, thrown from the bus onto the road, where the teen died. Her mother is in hospital with severe injuries. Her little brother, who witnessed the entire incident, was dropped off a little distance away.
"No one helped. They first pushed my daughter off the bus, then me," the girl's 38-year-old mother, who was unconscious for hours at a district hospital, said on Thursday.
What amplifies the horror is that the bus is linked to Punjab's first family, the Badals. Documents show that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's family owns 5,000 shares in Orbit, the company that runs the bus.
Three persons, including the bus conductor and cleaner, have been arrested for the incident that provoked comparisons to the brutal gang-rape of a young medical student on a moving bus in Delhi in 2012.
"Moga is Punjab's Nirbhaya. Smuggling of drugs takes place on these Orbit buses. Their drivers are always high on drugs," said Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu. The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party stalled Parliament today with demands for an investigation.
The teenager, her mother and 10-year-old brother took the bus last evening from their village to visit a gurdwara. Soon, mother and daughter found themselves surrounded, abused and groped by half a dozen men, the conductor among them.
Other passengers on the bus didn't react at all, the woman alleged.
When she ran to the driver and begged him to stop the bus, he allegedly ignored her and drove even faster. After around 20 minutes of harassment, the woman and her daughter were thrown out.
Asked whether the bus belongs to his family, the Chief Minister said, "Unfortunately it does. But I have never taken interest in it. A Himalayan blunder has happened. A great sin. It could have happened on any bus. It is sad regardless of whether it happened on a truck, bus or jeep."