‘We’ve no money’: Families of Telangana bus crash victims preserve bodies with ice, husk
Many families in Shanivarampeta, Himmatraopet, Ramasagaram, Tirmalapur and Konapur all along Kodimyal-Jagtial road were preserving the bodies of their loved ones in ice and paddy husk.
It was an uphill task for the family of Ragula Rajavva to preserve her body until her son Laxman could reach the village in Telangana’s Jagtial district from Dubai.
Raavva was one of the 60 passengers killed after a state-owned Road Transport Corporation bus carrying pilgrims from a Hanuman temple on top of the Kondagattu hill plunged off the road into a 30-foot gorge on Tuesday morning.
Doctors at a hospital in Jagtial handed the 50-year-old’s body to her family after conducting the mandatory post-mortem examination. They have put two ice blocks on it and covered it with husk as they do not have the money to hire a freezer to preserve Rajavva’s body.
“What else can we do? We have no money. We are waiting for her son to arrive to perform the last rites,” Rajavva’s sister said.
Many other families in Shanivarampeta, Himmatraopet, Ramasagaram, Tirmalapur and Konapur all along Kodimyal-Jagtial road were also preserving the bodies of their loved ones in ice and paddy husk. Most of the men from these villages go to countries in the Gulf in search of livelihood, leaving parents and wives behind, who mostly work as agriculture labourers.
The family of Gajula Ashok of Shanivarampeta was wiped out in the Kondagattu accident. His seven-year-old son Harsha died on the spot and his wife Latha succumbed in the hospital. Ashok is rushing back to India from Dubai after he was informed about the accident.
Most of the people on the bus were not actually pilgrims but regular passengers travelling to Jagtial. Some pilgrims from the villages got down at the temple on the Kondagattu hill, while some others boarded the bus to come down.
“After having a darshan, we got into the bus. Within minutes it met with the accident,” B Narayana Goud, who lost his son Ramcharan, mother Bhumakka, brother Madhanaiah and mother-in-law Rajeshwari, told local media at the hospital.
The bus’ conductor Parameshwar, who was admitted to the Jagtial hospital with serious injuries, said the bus was not fit to ply on the road and he had brought it to the notice of the authorities just three days ago.
“I was punching the tickets for passengers at the rear end and for a moment, I didn’t know what was happening. As the bus fell into the gorge, I went unconscious,” he said.
He said bus driver Srinivas, who was also killed in the accident, was an experienced one and had even got an award for being the best driver in the district during the Independence Day celebrations last month.
Mallesh, an eyewitness, said while speaking to the media that the bus was coming down the hill at a high speed.
“It appeared a large number of people lost their balance and fell on him (the driver), as a result of which he lost control over the steering and the bus fell into the gorge. There were at least 10 bodies on the driver who got crushed under their weight,” he said.
The bus was the only mode of transport for the people of six villages in the area to come to the district headquarters. Sudhakar of Shanivarampeta said the bus made only three trips a day. The first trip started from Tirmalapur in the morning, picked up passengers from the other five villages and reached Jagtial via Kondagattu by noon. The same bus made another two rounds during the rest of the day.
“If we miss the first trip, we will have to wait for at least another five hours for the next trip. That is the reason why the villagers board the bus in large numbers beyond its carrying capacity. There were more than 100 passengers in the bus when it met with the accident,” Sudhakar said.
The district administration gave Rs 10,000 to the families of the victims for performing their final rites. “The government will soon distribute Rs 5 lakh each to the families of victims as an ex gratia,” state transport minister P Mahender Reddy said.
First Published: Sep 12, 2018 20:05:38