Hit by an e-rickshaw, child slips out of mother’s arms into pan of boiling oil

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NEW DELHI: In a gory incident, a toddler reportedly slipped from his mother’s arms and fell into a cauldron of boiling oil outside a sweetmeat shop after the mother- Pinky was hit by an e-rickshaw in Trilokpuri, East Delhi, on Wednesday morning. The child, Dev, was first taken to Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital, but as it does not have a burns ward, he was referred to Safdarjung Hospital. But he was declared brought dead having sustained 100 per cent burn injuries.

Indian Express reports that according to police, Pinky was going to the market with her son to fetch milk. An e-rickshaw driver, who was driving in the wrong lane, hit her from the back.

“A confectioner was frying snacks in the pot he had placed on the roadside. When the woman tripped, her child fell into the pan of oil. Once she had regained her balance, she realised that he son was in the pan. She dipped her hands in the oil and tried to fish him out. However, she could not save him and sustained burn injuries herself,” a senior police officer said.

The Hindu reports that the police have registered a case of causing death by negligence as well as hit-and-run against the e-rickshaw driver at the Mayur Vihar Phase-I police station. The driver has been identified, but not apprehended, and the sweetmeat shop owner is also on the run.

According to the police, the road where the incident took place is wide enough for vehicles to pass by, but on Tuesday it was too crowded and congested as temporary shops had been set up on both sides of the road because of Eid. The victim’s, however, alleged that the person driving the e-rickshaw was drunk. “How else would someone hit a woman on such a wide road?” asked the boy’s father Chhatar Singh.

Eyewitnesses told police that no one came forward to help Pinky even as she kept shouting for help. The confectioner too reportedly ran inside the shop, police said.

A PCR call was made by a passerby who rushed the two to the hospital, police said. The errant e-rickshaw driver, meanwhile, left his vehicle behind and fled.

The family members and neighbours of the victim staged a protest outside the Mayur Vihar Phase police station. They refused to cremate the child, whose body they carried along with them, till action was taken against the e-rickshaw driver and the sweetmeat shop owner. The protesters also blocked the road in front of the police station.

In a related development, the Delhi High Court, today, 31 July, banned plying of e-rickshaws on the capital’s roads through an interim stay till August 18. A Division Bench headed by Justice B.D. Ahmed granted the stay on a writ petition seeking regulation of battery operated rickshaws on the city roads.

The stay will be operative till August 18, when the case will come up for further hearing. The court took note of the unfortunate death of the toddler as a result of an accident involving an e-rickshaw. “There is no specific load or number of passengers that they are required to carry. They are not registered. They have no insurance,” the bench also observed.

The High Court’s directions came on a petition filed by social worker Shanawaz Khan alleging that e-rickshaws, which are operated with power output of 650 to 850 watt and are designed to ferry only four people, including the driver, were carrying more than 8 people at a time, endangering their lives. 

It may be recalled that e-rickshaws or battery-operated rickshaws have been embroiled in controversy for the past several months. 

Those against e-rickshaws say these ‘vehicles’ do not require registration and that their drivers also do not need licences, as this mode of transport is not covered under the Motor Vehicles Act. 

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had recently announced that the government would not ban e-rickshaws in Delhi. He, however, himself got embroiled in controversy later when reports claimed that a firm allegedly linked to the minister was seeking to manufacture e-rickshaws. 

While e-rickshaws have become a preferred choice of last-mile commutation, they have also come to be seen as a menace on Delhi’s congested roads. Their mushrooming has eaten into whatever little space was left on Delhi’s roads, and their reckless plying has also become a problem for other commuters, especially pedestrians.  

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