Witness and distress As usual I got up at 6 a.m. …


Witness and distress
As usual I got up at 6 a.m. I was unaware of the day being a special day. My wife, who was eagerly waiting for conveying good wishes at the first hour of the day. As soon as I got up, she came to me with smiling face and wished me on the occasion of my 62nd birth day and the second anniversary of retirement from the bank.Both falls on the same day. She always call me as B.V.instead of full name Bhakta Vatsala. This was revealed to my colleagues by somebody. Once one of my close colleague asked me the shortform in the name gives different meaning in Hindi language,be husband instead of Bivi. I replied him don’t intrepret further as ‘Bivi ka gulam’ and ‘Ammavra ganda’. I told him to stop this nonsense and clarified him as I am friend, philosopher and guide to her. I thanked her for conveying good wishes. By the time, I completed bath, puja and break fast it was already 12 noon. I was just relaxing and glancing over the head lines of the newspaper. I heard a sound of somebody knocking the door. I went to the main door and peeped into the small safety glass. I was surprised to see the presence of a police constable holding a cover. Immediately, I could not understand the reason for his coming to my house. I opened the door and asked, “Do you have any work with me?” He told me, ” Sir!I have come here to serve you summons issued by the Gulbarga court to present on coming Monday.Please take one copy and sign on the other copy for having received the same.” I took the summons as per the directions. When I opened the cover, I observed that the summons were issued in connection with the car accident case happened at the fag end of my service. I felt very much, because the case opened after the gap of two years. The moment, I started recollecting the good and bad experiences of 35 long years, I had both smile and sorrow.Soon after the retirement from the bank service as an Assistant General Manager, I came to Bangalore city along with my family consisting of myself, wife and only son. The summons were served to me, when I was in the process of adjusting to a peaceful life. The sudden development of attending to a court outside Bangalore naturally made me restless. I was surprised for two reasons. Firstly, the inordinate delay of dragging the simple case for two years. Secondly, the summons served to me caused disturbance to my mind.Inspite of this, I felt happy, because the place I am going, happens to be my native place. I was born and brought up in this place. Even I had my education at Gulbarga right from first standard to post-graduation. I was happy because the bank has provided me an opportunity to meet my relatives and old friends. I myself put questions for this sudden development. I tried to find out the answers. Why the court delayed in disposing off the case? Why the person connected with the case called for witness after a long time? Did they not realise long period cause adverse effect on the case?In addition to this, I have in my mind some of the points to be raised. I cannot express all this in front of the honourable judge. As a citizen of the country, I can express my free and frank opinon through the media. I wanted to write an article dealing with this subject and send it for publication in the newspaper or a magazine.
When I was in service holding responsible position, I was entrusted with the job of disposing the disciplinary proceedings against the staff.All these cases were disposed off promptly within the time bound programme given to me. I had to face horrible situation when the important documents connected to the cases, were either misplaced or lost. With the assistance of the dedicated staff, I traced all the files and kept in a proper manner.
The summons referred above was served to me in connection with a case booked under Motor Vehicles Act. I am in a position to remember even today the details of the case. Just six months before my retirement, a car belonging to the bank met with an accident. Mustafa, bank’s driver was in the habit of driving the vehicle fast and the speed was more than the permissible limit. If the condition of the road was good, his driving speed was still fast.I gave caution to him several times to limit the speed within the prescribed limit. His reply was something like assuring confidence. I warned him with strong words like initiating stern action in case of disobediance. Some times I used to tell him mildly, ” Mustafa, take extra caution while driving otherwise you will create unnecessary problems at the time of my retirement.” His reply was casual and not serious. He said, ” Sir my family is consisting of ten members myself, two wives, five daughters, one son and a old mother. In case of accident, I will be the first victim being a driver. Please do not worry and I assure one hundred percent confidence of my driving. During my fifteen years of experience, I never met with an accident barring one or two minor accidents.”
Inspite of these assurances, I was under my own self care. I used to caution him whenever the pedestrains, animals and vehicles coming from the opposite direction. I was very much particular in cautioning him especially heavy vehicles coming with high speed from the opposite side.
In the begening,before joining the bank’s service, Mustafa was driving private trucks and tippers. On the basis of his long experience, he got employment in the bank. Initially, he was appointed on temporary basis. On observing his nature of work and the recommadation of the branch, his services were confirmed. When he was in a position to learn the driving of jeep and car with self confidence, he wanted to become an expert driver.
One day I was proceeding towards Gulbarga in a bank’s car from my Raichur branch on official duty. When I reached two kilometers before Yadagiri, a two wheeler was coming from the opposite direction. Apart from the driver of the two wheeler,another person was seated behind. Both were talking freely and it appears the driver was negligant.The spot on the road was up. The driver was expected to drive with full caution. Due to the worst condition of the two wheeler, it was not going properly. It was clear on the part of the driver of the two wheeler that he was driving with great difficulty. This vehicle was approaching to the car, where I was sitting. If the driver Mustafa took proper judgement and limit his speed at an appropriate time, certainly there was a bright chance of avoiding mishap. Observing the danger, Mustafa tried to apply the break and failed to control the car and hit the two wheeler. As a result of this, two persons on the two wheeler fell on the road with minor injuries. The two wheeler broke in to pieces. In the process, our car hit a big stone on the road side thereby causing damage to the front left side and tyres. By the grace of God, nothing was happened to me and the driver. I remembered God at that moment for coming to our rescue.
Within few minutes crowd gathered and created a big scene. The public present on the scene were trying to compromise between both the parties. One person among them appears to be a leader was approaching both the parties for an amicable settlement. I was under the impression that there was no question of compromise. It was the mistake of the two wheeler driver, who came wrong side and hit the car. I told them if this driver was vigilant and fully aware of the mishap going to happen would not have taken wrong judgement. Our car driver was perfectly alright as far as his driving was concerned. I was compelled to register a case in the nearby police station. The police arrived on the spot and the enqueries conducted as per law. The two persons succumbed to the minor injuries were admitted to the hospital. The news of the accident spread like wild fire through out the area. An advocate conversant with the Motor Vehicles Act was arrived to the spot and took the entire responsibility of moving the case on behalf of the two injured persons.He expressed sympathy towards them and conveyed good wishes for the speedy recovery. Further, he prepared a case by creating additional artificial injuries in collusion with the doctor and insurance official for the purpose of getting more compensation and the reimbursement of the cost of the vehicle.
In the police station tussle began between the two parties. The police registered the first information report (F.I.R.) by taking statements from the concerned parties. The case was registered as a rash and negligent driving of car driver. I pleaded for the defence of my driver and pointed out clearly the mistakes committed by the driver of two wheeler. But the police official did not listen to my plea and argued in favour of the driver of the two wheeler. I could not convince the police official and failed to control the situation. I was confident of my effective presentation to the police. But the police official refused to accept my argument. The police offocial’s stand was meaningless. As per his report, it was due to the sheer negligence of the car driver the mishap took place. Thereafter, the car was seized and the driver was kept under the police custody for a day. I felt very much because of this unforeseen accident on the eve of my retirement.
After two day’s of receiving summons, Mustafa called on me over a phone and requested me to present on the date of hearing. I told him to make arrangement for hotel accomodation and a taxi for a day.
I was thinking seriously about attending to court case. Though it was not pleasnt trip, even then I felt it was a happy occasion to visit Gulbarga. The opportunity of meeting with relatives and friends was provided by the bank. I thought, it was a joyful journey. The railway tickets for Udyan was reserved three days back. The departure of the train was at 8.30 p.m. I was in the railway station 15 minutes before the departure of the train.My seat was reserved in the upper berth no.45. I sat for a while on one of the seats below for some time till everything was settled. I tried to recollect the points for giving witness in the court on next day. The train was about to move at the scheduled time from the station, three persons hurriedly boarded and sat besides me. One of the persons asked me about the seat number. I told them, I will be moving to upper berth within a couple of minutes. Another person asked my introduction. I gave brief introduction. Then, all the three persons introduced themselves as one advocate and others as clients.These three persons belong to Gulbarga and visited Bangalore in connection with their cases at High Court.They continued conversation without realising the disturbance to others. I was just listening and not partcipating with them. The advocate was narrating his own experiences in the court. He told to his friends about one of the clients for a favourable judgement because of benefit of doubt. Others were also sharing their experiences. The other passngers in the bogie were newly married couple with a old lady, and middle aged cuple with their children. After sometime, I moved to upper berth for sleep. There was no sign of stopping the conversation of these three persons. In the meantime they ordered for meals and got it within few minutes. I had food before leaving home. I wanted to have sound sleep. How can I sleep unless these persons stop the conversation. I was just relaxing going through a magazine. Their loud talk was continued one hour. When there was silence in the compartment, I just wanted to see outside.It was raining and the train was moving with maximum speed. In the compartment there was a sound of snoring. I woke up in the morning. My wrist watch showed the time 8.30 a.m. Gulbarga station was approaching. I was keenly watching Hanuman Temple from my left side, Engineering college and railway staff quarters on my right side. It was 8.40 a.m. I reached Gulbarga. I got down from the bogie with my brief case. I was looking for Mustafa on the platform. Even after passing one hour Mustafa did not come. I was surprised and thought for a while the reason for the absence. He never absented like this in the past. Why this time he failed to come? I came out of the station to find out Mustafa. Ultimately, I went to telephone booth to contact the concerned officer in the bank in order to find out the truth. When I was speaking to the officer, I was really surprised to know the reason behind Mustafa’s absence and tears rolled on continuosly. I sat on the floor not knowing what to do next.I lost my senses for a moment. The proprietor of the booth and the people present there were astonished to see my condition and rushed towards me for help.
What was the reason for the absence of Mustafa?
On the previous day the bank tried to contact me for cancellation of the journey. By the time message was sent, I was already left. My wife could not contact me even after repeated efforts. On the previous day in the morning at about 10.30 a.m., the Chief Manager of the branch told Mustafa to be ready for proceeding to Chittapur to attend a meeting.Accordingly, the driver was ready with the car. The Chief Manager, before proceeding told the driver to be more alert and exercise utmost caution while driving because of the worst condition of the road.The driver was most vigilant and driving with utmost care. The place of destination was just 10 kilometers ahead, a bullock cart loaded with gunny bags was coming from the opposite direction. The condition of the road was far from satisfactory.It was a mud road with full of small pieces of stones. As the cart was approaching very close to the car, Mustafa wanted to apply break to stop the car to avoid the mishap. In the process, he lost control over the break and hit the bullock cart making it as a head on collusion. Mustafa might have thought of hitting the bullock cart. But it was quite different. Bulocks and the farmer escaped from the mishap and diverted in the field. Mustafa died instantly due to psychological pressure leaving no scope for medical treatment. Luckily, the Chief Manager, who was seated behind survived with minor injury.
I was really shivering to know the reality. I went to Mustafa’s house and tried to convince his family to be bold to face the tragedy. I prayed God to give them strength to bear the unbearable loss and conveyed the family members, ” May his soul rest in peace.”
I do not know even today whether the case was disposed off or still pending.
A.Vaman Acharya
1001, Double Spring CT,
APEX,27502 N.C. United States of America.

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Published in: on ಜುಲೈ 8, 2006 at 7:13 ಫೂರ್ವಾಹ್ನ  ನಿಮ್ಮ ಟಿಪ್ಪಣಿ ಬರೆಯಿರಿ  

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