Featured Image: (On left) Deceased Airman Abhimanyu Gaud in Air Force file photo, and (on right) file photo of killer Audi driver, Ambia Sohrab, from his Facebook account.
By Bappaditya Paul
Kolkata, 13 January: A young Air Force jawan’s life has been cut short after being run over by a car that intruded onto Kolkata’s high security Red Road this morning while a drill was on for the upcoming Republic Day parade.
Prima facie, the authorities are viewing this to be a case of accident caused by rash driving, but other malicious motive is not being ruled out as yet.
Abhimanyu Gaud, only 21 years of age and hailing from Surat in Gujarat, had joined the Air Force in 2013. After training, he has been serving his first posting as an Airman at the Kalaikunda Air Force Station in Bengal’s West Midnapore district since July 2014.
He came to Eastern Command headquarters Fort William last week on being deputed as a drill instructor for the Air Force team that is to take part in the Republic Day parade at Red Road.
Like other days, the parade drill began at Red Road at 6 in the morning. Facing towards Raj Bhavan, the drill had a Kolkata Police team positioned first, followed by teams from the Army, Navy, and the Air Force, in respective order.
Gaud, being the Air Force drill instructor was at the tail end. He was engrossed into the task that a white German-make Audi luxury car sped in from Khidderpore-end and rammed onto Red Road by breaking the movable iron barricades. The car hit Gaud from behind less than hundred metres away from the War Memorial at Fort William.
The car then took a U-turn, and drove towards Khidderpore for some distance, and then came to a grinding halt after turning auto-lock. The driver fled by abandoning the car there; but before that, he tore off the registration details that were printed on papers.
A severely injured Gaud was rushed to the Army’s Command Hospital at Alipore in south Kolkata located barely 4 km from the accident site. Gaud succumbed to the injuries minutes after being taken there.
Police have seized the killer Audi car that belongs to Mohammad Sohrab, who had won the 2006 West Bengal Assembly election from the now abolished Burrabazar constituency as a Rashtriya Janata Dal candidate. He switched over to Congress in 2009, and is now with the Trinamool Congress that he joined in 2011.
The car was bought from a showroom in central Kolkata on 04 January, and the police suspect that Mohammad Sohrab’s son, Ambia Sohrab, was driving the car when the accident took place this morning.
What is intriguing the investigators from the Maidan police station is that, Ambia is quite familiar with driving, and yet he ran into the no-entry zone at Red Road and rammed into the barricade.
Kolkata Police commissioner, Surajit Kar Purkayastha, who visited the accident spot, said that police have got the CCTV footages of the accident, and they were hoping to arrest the driver soon. “It appears that there was only one person in the car then. We are investigating all aspects as to what led to the accident,” he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who paid a visit to the Command Hospital to see the deceased Airman, said that police would deal with this strictly. “Such people do not have a right to drive car. They deserve strict punishment,” she said.
The elder brother of the deceased Airman is flying down to Kolkata from Surat later this evening. The family has plans to take his mortal remains back home for the last rites.
Eastern Command chief spokesperson, Wing Commander SS Birdi, said that the parade drill would be continued at Red Road from tomorrow as per its usual schedule. “But Kolkata Police shall have to put in place more deterrence and vigil to ensure that no vehicle can foray in during the drill hours when Red Road is notified as a no-entry zone,” he said.