Chennai: A day after seven-year-old Sruthi was killed after falling through a hole in her school bus, the motor vehicle inspector who recently issued a ‘Fitness Certificate’ to the ill-fated bus, was arrested by police on Thursday. The correspondent of the school, the bus driver, contractor hired by the school to operate buses, and a juvenile cleaner were also arrested. The State government also swung into action and suspended the MV inspector, P Rajasekaran. The MVI attached to the Tambaram RTO, failed to properly inspect the bus as per the norms, a release from the government stated.
“For the serious lapses, Rajasekaran has been placed under suspension. Failure to issue FC as per norms has led to serious consequences. For this gross failure, leading to the loss of life, a case has been registered,” read the government statement. He was charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, under Section 304 (ii) of the Indian Penal Code. Sources in the police claimed that Tambaram RTO Padapasamy was also suspended from service.
Scenes of grief and anger unfolded through the day at Mudichur as the suburb prepared to bid its final adieu to Sruthi. Shops in the locality remained shut and auto-rickshaws kept off the streets. Local residents, sporting black ribbons, marched to the seven-year-old girl’s house in what was a sign of both mourning and protest over her untimely demise.
A pall of gloom descended upon the PTC quarters in Mudichur, where Shruti’s family lives. Her father Sethu Madhavan wept inconsolably, even as he thanked all those who came to pay their respects. Shruthi’s mother, who had watched her daughter wave to her moments before her death, was brought out of her home every once in a while to see her little girl’s body lying in a freezer box. Apparently unaware of what overcame the family, her elder brother Pranav played with his cycle in a corner.
The funeral itself was delayed, as the girl’s paternal grandparents were to arrive from Palakkad. Parents who turned up at Shruthi’s house recounted how Sethu Madhavan, who ferries school children for a living in an auto rickshaw, ensured that he dropped off the children in his charge at their homes even though he feared the worst after he heard of his daughter’s accident. Only after dropping the children did he rush to his daughter’s body.
School authorities ignored requests
The incident has left parents of students at Zion school shocked and afraid. Though several representations were made to the school management about the holes on the floor of the ill-fated bus, the authorities concerned simply washed their hands off the issue, saying that the bus was hired on contract, claim parents. Shruthi almost fell through the same hole on the bus a few days ago, her neighbours allege. Wednesday’s incident was hence, a cruel irony, they said.
Angry neighbours joined other parents and youth activists as they demanded that the “strictest action” be taken against those responsible for the tragedy. They also wanted Sruthi’s family to receive due compensation. School correspondent N Vijayan was among those arrested on Thursday.