Edu officer out of bus crash probe panel after backlash

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Gurgaon: The district education officer has been removed from a panel formed to probe the Mahendergarh school bus accident in which six students died on Thursday.
The decision to remove Sunil Dutt was taken following a backlash from parents and residents, who insisted that the education officer should be held responsible for allowing private schools to stay open on Eid despite government institutions declaring a holiday.
The committee, which now has Kanina DSP Mahendra Kumar, SDM Surendra Kumar and city magistrate Manjeet Kumar, will probe why GL Public School — whose students met with the accident — remained open on Eid and how the school bus continued to operate for years without valid papers. The additional deputy commissioner will head the investigation.
Six students died and 21 were injured when a drunk driver ploughed the school bus into a tree while overtaking a truck in Kanina on Thursday. The driver of the bus, school principal and its secretary were arrested and are now in police custody.
Apart from parents and residents, politicians too had objected to the inclusion of Dutt in the committee earlier, raising questions on whether an impartial probe was possible with him around.
“The students would not have died had the school not remained open. The education officer is responsible for it. His inclusion in the committee will undermine the investigation,” said Chaudhary Dharmbir Singh, a two-time MP from the Bhiwani-Mahendergarh constituency.
“The probe panel has been handed the task of finding out why the school chose to stay open on a public holiday like Eid and how the bus was running on the streets all these years without any papers,” said deputy commissioner Monika Gupta.
The committee, she said, will also probe allegations by villagers that they had informed the school principal about the bus driver being drunk before the accident, but were told to return him the keys as he “will manage”.
Drink session in bus?
CCTV footage retrieved from a medical store showed two men stopping their bike near the school bus parked in Kheri village an hour before the accident. The clip, which captured the bus from the rear, showed the two men entering it.
Villagers have alleged that Dharmendra — the bus driver — consumed liquor with his two friends inside the vehicle before leaving to pick the students up. The footage showed the two men exiting the bus as well before it left the spot.
“There were no students on the bus at 7.25am, when the two men were seen getting into it. After they had liquor inside, Dharmendra left for Kheri, his first stop for picking up students. When the students were inside the bus, he accelerated all of a sudden and hit a biker exiting a lane. The biker intercepted him and snatched the bus keys. But he pleaded with him to give the keys back. We called up the principal to say the driver was heavily drunk, but she urged us to return the keys and said ‘he will manage’,” said Pankaj Hindu, Kheri village sarpanch.
Credit Source – https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/edu-officer-out-of-bus-crash-probe-panel-after-backlash/articleshow/109279036.cms

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