GOALPARA, May 21 � In a tragic accident, 11 members of a cultural troupe were killed and one was critically injured when the Winger vehicle (AS-01/CC 8435) in which they were travelling towards Guwahati, collided head-on with a 10-wheeler truck coming from the opposite direction on the NH-37 between Kothakuthi and Dhupdhara under Dhupdhara Police Station around 5.30 am today.
The dead were members of a cultural troupe which included artistes, musicians and sound engineers and were travelling towards Guwahati after performing at a cultural function last night at Matia. Among the dead was Suman Mahanta of Tezpur, an upcoming Assamese singer.
According to officials present at the accident site, nine people died on the spot, while two others succumbed to their injuries at the local hospital. The truck (BR-01/GB 0744) has been impounded and the driver Sazad Khan arrested, while the police are investigating on the possible causes behind the accident.
Apart from Suman Mahanta, the other victims have been identified as Mukul Barman (Pattarcharkuchi), Rajiv Kalita (Bijoynagar), Debobrato Das (Lalganesh), Pranjal Haloi (Matia), Jagadish Boro (Ganeshguri), Deepak Rabha (Jatiya), Raju Bora (Jatiya), Nripen Sharma (Tangla), Bijoy Rai (Guwahati) and Moon Rai (Guwahati). Their inquests were performed at the Goalpara Civil Hospital. The critically injured Gautam Sharma (Barpeta) has been referred to the Guwahati Medical College Hospital for advance treatment.
Meanwhile, talking to this correspondent, Deputy Commissioner Preetom Saikia said that a magisterial inquiry has been instituted and the government has extended ex-gratia of Rs 5,000 each to the next of kin of those killed. He also expressed grief and offered his condolences to all the bereaved families.
Our Mirza Correspondent adds: Police sources said that Babita Sarma, a well-known artiste who was part of the troupe, escaped the tragedy as she was travelling in another vehicle. It may be mentioned that three of those killed were music teachers of South Point School, Guwahati and the school authority has announced that the school would remain closed tomorrow.
The artiste fraternity has condoled the death of the young artistes. AIUDF supremo Badruddin Ajmal has also condoled the death of the artists.
Our Staff Reporter in Guwahati adds: Later in the evening, tributes were paid to the departed souls at the Dr Bhupen Hazarika Memorial at Jalukbari and also at the South Point School.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has deeply mourned the death of 11 people in a tragic road mishap at Dhupdhara in Goalpara district this morning.
The Chief Minister, while offering his deepest condolences to the members of the bereaved families, prayed for eternal peace of the departed souls. Gogoi also wished speedy recovery of the injured. He said the State Government would extend due compensation to the kith and kin of the deceased.
Governor JB Patnaik has expressed shock at the tragic death of eleven persons in a road accident in Goalpara. He has offered his condolences to the bereaved families.