"That was not the first time my wife travelled by bus, but it was her last. If one person had the heart to give her a seat in the crowded bus, she would have been alive and well today," says Thaha, a native of Kottayam district.
His 34-year-old pregnant wife Nashida succumbed to her injuries on Wednesday, after she fell from a moving bus last Friday. Eight months into her pregnancy, Nashida was forced to stand in the crowded bus since all the seats were occupied.
Nashida boarded a private bus owned by the Vazhayil group last Friday to return to her residence in Erattupetta from the Akshaya Centre in Panchayat Padi, a distance of 5 km.
However, her journey was brutally cut short, when Nashida was thrown off the moving bus on to the road when it took a turn. Although the doctors managed to save her baby, who is presently admitted in the ICU, Nashida breathed her last on Wednesday. She left behind two daughters, who are aged 10 and 4 and a newborn son.
The bus driver, who was booked for rash driving and causing death by negligence, is yet to be arrested by the police.
âThey didnât bother to help my wifeâ
Speaking to TNM, Nashida's husband Thaha says fellow passengers, who refused to empathise with a pregnant woman, were equally to blame for what happened to her.
"Despite being women themselves, they didn't bother to help my wife and give up their seat for her. I am not diluting the responsibility of the bus driver at all. It is poor people like us who travel by bus and we are placing our safety in their hands. They are bound to ensure the safety of each and every passenger, which they didn't," Thaha says.
Nashida was, however, not alone on the bus, but had been accompanied by her younger daughter and elder sister Shanida
Recounting the incident, Shanida says that it was at the end of a 30-minute long wait that they decided to board that particular bus.
"I told her that since the bus was crowded, we shall wait for another one. But Nashida was tired of waiting for so long and said we should take it. It was after all a 5-km journey, we thought. How difficult could that be! Only if I knew,â she lamented.
Shanida recalled, âWe could barely manage to stand properly in the bus since it was crowded. Even before we found a place to stand steadily, the driver started the bus. None of the other passengers paid attention to us and did not offer a seat to my pregnant sister. We thought we would ask someone to give her a seat if she felt tired. But hardly five minutes had passed by, when the bus took a sharp turn and a lot of us fell inside the bus."
Nashida's younger daughter who was with Shanida also fell inside the bus. After picking up the child and regaining her composure, Shanida heard other passengers shout, asking the driver to stop the bus.
âBus driver was ruthlessly carelessâ
"Never had I imagined that Nashida had fallen off. She was standing right beside me. It all happened in a matter of seconds. Once the bus came to a halt, I found her lying in a pool of blood on her back," Shanida recounts, her voice breaking.
The door of the bus was left open at the time of the incident. Shanida says that had the door been closed, her sister would have not fallen off the bus and injured herself so gravely.
"It is true that had anyone offered to give up their seat to my sister, she would not have fallen off the bus. But the bus staff was ruthlessly careless too, for having left the door open, unattended," Shanida says.
Nashida's family is yet to come to terms with her untimely death. Thaha says that their 4-year-old daughter Haya continues to believe that her mother is undergoing treatment at the hospital.
"Our eldest daughter Hana has understood that her mother won't come back again. But the younger one doesn't understand what death is and thinks that she will get to see her mother again. As for the newborn, he has come into a world where he will never get his mother's love and care," says a grieving Thaha.
State Human Rights Commission seeks report
Based on a directive by the State Human Rights Commission in 2016, the Kerala Motor Vehicle Act was amended to make it mandatory for at least one seat to be reserved for pregnant women in all KSRTC and private buses.
On Thursday, the Commission sought an inquiry report from Kottayam SP and RTO on why this provision was not given to Nashida.