Justice or cruel joke? Pothole kills 18-month-old in Udupi, father booked for 'negligence'

The road is ridden with potholes, but that hasn't stopped the police from filing the case against the father.
Justice or cruel joke? Pothole kills 18-month-old in Udupi, father booked for 'negligence'
Justice or cruel joke? Pothole kills 18-month-old in Udupi, father booked for 'negligence'
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A father has lost his 18-month-old infant and now he is being booked for his child’s death.

In an act of complete apathy, the Manipal Police, on Monday, booked Umesh Poojary for rash and negligent driving and causing baby Chirag’s death.

Chirag was sitting on his mother’s lap while Umesh was riding the two-wheeler from Manipal to Hiriyadka at around 6.30 am on October 2. The couple were wearing helmets. 

The road where the accident occurred was upgraded to a national highway a few years ago. This stretch also known as the Udupi-Karkala Highway is riddled with potholes.

On that fateful day, when Umesh and his family had reached Parkala area, they encountered a giant pothole. Umesh tried to veer the bike away from the pothole resulting in baby Chirag falling from his mother’s lap.

Chirag suffered severe head injuries while his parents sustained minor ones. The baby was admitted to a private hospital in Manipal.

The accident had triggered protests from locals who blamed the authorities for negligence in maintaining the roads.

Six days after the loss of their child, the family is faced with another shocker. Umesh has been booked for rash and negligent driving and causing hurt by an act endangering the life of others.

Krishna Poojary, Chirag’s uncle, says that the police made him file a complaint against Umesh.

“On October 2, I went to the Manipal Police Station to file a complaint and complete the formalities. I was shocked and I did not pay much attention. I explained what happened and that the road was filled with potholes. The staff in the police station wrote the letter for me and told me to sign it. I did not realise that the complaint was framed in such a way that it framed Umesh,” Krishna told TNM.

When TNM contacted Udupi Superintendent of Police, Sanjeev Patil, he said the police were still determining if it was the driver’s fault or not.

“I can’t comment on the complaint or any of those allegations. If it is not the driver’s fault then he will be cleared of all charges. The investigation is still going on. We have contacted the National Highways Authority of India. Complaints have been coming in from various residents and activists that the Parkala accident was due to the ignorance of safety measures by the NHAI officials. Some of the NHAI officials have been questioned and action will be taken against the officers or engineers, if they are found guilty. We have also issued notices to NHAI officials who have been summoned twice for questioning. If it is proved that the laxity was on their behalf then the father will be free,” SP Patil said.

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