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  • Harsh Choudhary

Truck rams into shuttle, Driver Beaten; Students Unhappy with University’s Response

On November 13, between 11 p.m. and midnight, a truck collided with an Ashoka shuttle on its way back to campus from Jahangirpuri metro station. Students aboard witnessed a disturbing display of aggression following the accident.

In an email forwarded to the student body, Vaibhav Shokeen, UG’25, recounted, “A truck rammed into our bus, after which the shuttle driver tried getting the truck driver to stop. Around a 100m chase followed this, and a physical fight broke out.”

Another student aboard the shuttle, choosing to remain anonymous, confirmed the scale of the accident, stating, “The incident happened near the garbage heap (Bhalsawa), and nearly everyone leapt from their seats. The shuttle driver started chasing him at full speed and if the truck driver hadn't stopped, I don’t know if I would have been here.” he continued, “Following that, the shuttle driver got aggressive and broke the truck driver’s mirror and slammed the keys on his face during a physical fight; he thought the cost of the damage would be taken from him.”

The university has a third-party insurance policy in place that would have covered the costs of the damage. It is not clear whether the driver was aware of this policy.

As the fight escalated, the truck driver reportedly called backup from other truck drivers who were bypassing. Consequently, Shokeen writes, “The shuttle driver was severely beaten, his finger broken, and the shuttle was surrounded by several truck drivers, some with sticks in hand.”

Confirming this, The Edict's source replied, “At this point, the shuttle was surrounded by the trucks from all sides, making it impossible to move; all of us inside were panicking.”

Two Jahangirpuri guards, Vikram Sharma and Kaptaan, who were returning from their duty, intervened to placate the situation.

Kaptaan informed The Edict, “We told the students not to get out of the shuttle; if we hadn't stopped the fight, the issue would have escalated further.” The forwarded email also stated the same. “We negotiated a resolution of 1500 rupees for the damaged mirror, given that neither of us had ready cash on hand. The students volunteered to contribute towards the payment, for which they were reimbursed,” Sharma added.

Kaptaan and Sharma also confirmed to The Edict that the shuttle driver involved in the incident has now been let go from his job. Despite being beaten and bruised, he continued to operate the shuttle until the day following the incident, as verified by an Ashoka student on Twitter.

As Kaptaan managed the ongoing conflict, Sharma, realizing the need for additional transportation, contacted the main gate to request an extra shuttle. However, the shuttle arrived after they had settled with the truck driver, and the bruised driver was at the wheel.

The guards who played a role in handling the situation were only present there because their duty ends at 11 p.m. A critical question arises: What would have happened if this incident had occurred with the 10:30 p.m. shuttle?

A concern of the students on the shuttle was which authority from Ashoka was to be contacted in situations like this. The students reportedly tried contacting Sachin Sharma (Registrar), Vikas Antil (Transport Head), Mr Thompson (Warden), Ravi Sharma (TDI admin), and the Delhi Police - to no avail. The students alleged none of the parties contacted could offer any kind of help. “As the area lies between the border of Haryana and Delhi, the police of both areas proved to be unhelpful, initially thinking it was a prank, and later by repeatedly redirecting our calls to one another,” said an anonymous student.

Diya Tantiya (UG’24), replying to the AUSG forwarded email, wrote, “I panicked and called up Vikas Antil, the transport in charge. After explaining the entire situation to him, he didn’t respond in a helpful manner and hung up on me.”

However, during an Edict interview conducted under the supervision of Bhaskar Mishra, the Vice President of Operations, Vikas Antil denied receiving such calls. He suggested that there might have been confusion with the contact information, emphasizing the possibility of an error in dialling the number.

During the same interview, Bhaskar Mishra said “The call came to me very late, as soon as I heard, I made every attempt to ensure the student's safety, however, there are some behavioral changes expected from their sides as well, such as having speed dials for campus emergency contacts.” Mishra also emphasized the need to be more vigilant from the student’s side.

However, a source who wishes to be anonymous specifically mentioned, "Many of our calls went unanswered. Those who picked up were asking pointless questions, like what’s the male-female ratio of the passengers, and pieces of evidence such as photos and videos," they said. "The way the campus authorities reacted was terrifying. We need more safety protocols."

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