One person was killed and 24 school students were injured when an overcrowded bus returning from a picnic in Madhya Pradesh met with an accident Tuesday morning in Gujarat's Panchmahal district, said police.
The private luxury bus, hired by an Ahmedabad-based school for picnic, fell into a roadside pit after the driver lost control over the vehicle at Parvadi village near Godhra, around 130 kilometres from Ahmedabad, said Police Sub-Inspector MV Jotana.
According to an FIR lodged at the Godhra taluka police station, the bus was hired by the Vivekanand Hindi Higher Secondary School, in Ahmedabad.
The incident took place when the bus, packed with 107 passengers, including schoolchildren and teachers, was returning to Ahmedabad from Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, where they had gone for a picnic.
While the cleaner of the bus, Balram Bhadoria, died in the accident, its driver fled the spot, said Panchmahal District Superintendent of Police Leena Patil.
"The bus slipped into a roadside pit after the driver lost control over the vehicle. While 24 students received minor injuries, the cleaner died as he jumped from the moving bus to save his life," said Ms Patil.
The injured students were shifted to the Godhra Civil Hospital for treatment, she said.
Primary investigations by the police revealed negligence on part of the school management as the bus was carrying 107 passengers, way beyond its capacity, said Ms Patil.
"The bus driver fled from the spot after the accident. The bus was indeed over-crowded. Apart from students, there were teachers and their family members in the bus. We have lodged a case against the driver and others," said the SP.
Based on a complaint filed by one of the parents, Radheshyam Prajapati, the Godhra taluka police lodged the FIR against the unidentified driver, bus operator Sitaram Sharma and the school owner, Panjabilal, police said.
They were charged under various sections of the IPC, including 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 279 (rash driving) and 337 (causing injury by rash act).
According to PSI Jotana, the capacity of the bus was just 58, against which 107 people, including 70 students, were in the vehicle at the time of accident.
"The bus stopped only after hitting a tree. To save his life, the cleaner jumped from the bus when it started slipping into a pit along the road. However, he was crushed to death under the wheels," officials said.