Wife and a friend battling for life in GMC; irate crowd sets SUV from Mumbai on fire paralysing vehicular traffic for nearly five hours
Mapusa/Panaji: In a tragic accident on the Siolim-Chopdem bridge, a 62-year-old man from Morjim and his 25-year-old son were killed after a Maharashtra-registered vehicle rammed into their car early Sunday morning.
Enraged by the fatal accident, an angry mob set the Maharashtra vehicle on fire, paralysing the vehicular traffic on both sides of the bridge for nearly five hours.
The deceased have been identified as Joao Fernandes and his son Judas Fernandes, the residents of Vitthaldas Wada, Morjim.
Joao Fernandes’ wife Milagrina Fernandes and their friend Alton Simoes sustained serious injuries and have been admitted to the Goa Medical College and Hospital, Bambolim, in a critical condition.
Joao Fernandes’ daughter Cynthia Fernandes and another friend Sonia Lobo, who also sustained injuries in the accident, are undergoing treatment at the district hospital.
The police said the accident took place at about 6.45 am when the family was travelling in the Swift car along with two others from to Morjim to Siolim to attend holy mass for the feast of St Anthony’s church.
The car was being driven by Judas Fernandes (25), whose father Joao Fernandes (62), mother Milagrina Fernandes (53), sister Cynthia Fernandes (29) and their friends Sonia Lobo (22) and Alton Simoes (24) were travelling in the car.
The Maharashtra-registered SUV was travelling from Calangute to Ashvem. Shekhar Dubey was driving the SUV, and Ketan Jadhav, Abdul Khan, Karishma Karalkar and Sanjay Singh, all residents of Maharashtra, were travelling in the SUV.
The accident occurred in the middle of the bridge when the SUV tried to overtake a vehicle and pulled over the lane, ramming into the oncoming Swift car, the police said.
The impact of the collision was so strong that the front portion of the car was badly damaged.
Judas Fernandes died on the spot, while his father died while being moved to the district hospital.
The other injured were moved to the hospitals.
The SUV occupants fled the scene, leaving their vehicle behind.
Local residents gathered at the accident site. They did not allow the police to move the body from the spot. The crowd demanded that the SUV occupants must be brought to the spot.
Mandrem MLA Dayanand Sopte, who rushed to the site, tried to pacify the crowd.
Thereafter at 9 am the SUV was set on fire by the angry mob.
Anjuna PI Navlesh Dessai and PSI Tejaskumar Naik had a tough time in controlling the people. Consequently additional police force was called in.
North Goa SP Chandan Choudhary also rushed to the site to control the restless people, who were seeking justice to the dead, demanding life imprisonment to the accused driver.
The North Goa SP said that bringing the accused at the spot is not possible but if a representative of the crowd comes with them to the police station then they will produce the SUV occupants, who are staffers of a Mumbai-based hospital and had come to Goa. They were supposed to return to Mumbai on Sunday afternoon.
After continuous arguments between the police and the mob, finally around 11.45 am the irate people relented, allowing the police to move the body from the accident site.
The vehicle was also removed from the spot to ease the blocked vehicular traffic.
The Anjuna police registered an offence under Section 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), Section 279 (rash driving) of the Indian Penal Code against the SUV driver, who was subjected to undergo medical tests including alcohol test.
The police recorded statements of other SUV occupants.
Inspector-general of police Jaspal Singh instructed the police to register a non-bailable offence in the case to send a strong message to rash drivers.
“At the same time I request the community at large to assist the police in such times rather than reacting emotionally,” he said, adding that the people should engage the police to maintain law and order situation, otherwise the police have to waste precious time to lift evidence from the scene of the accident to nail the offender.
The unlawful interference by crowd disturbs the scene and disappearance of incriminating evidence thereby indirectly helping the accused. Disturbance of evidence helps the accused in acquittal, Singh explained.
The IGP said that he has also advised SPs in North Goa and South Goa to hold meetings with public through panchayats and educate the people on implications of taking law into their hands.