Civil society does not care, it is irresponsible to the core. Nor does the police or the administrative establishment that refuses to do what it is meant to, once the media moves on to the next story and public pressure is off.

 

If it were not so, what happened to 9-year-old Ramya in July would not have happened to six-year-old Sanjana. She, her mother Sridevi and elder sister 10-year-old Pravalika were reportedly standing on the side of the road on the Hyderabad-Vijayawada National Highway at Pedda Amberpet, 22 km from Hyderabad, after having got down from a bus. They were waiting for their relatives to come and pick them up. Sanjana and Pravalika were planning to spend their Dasara vacation at their grandparents home. 

 

That is when a Santro, driven by a software engineer Venkata Ramana hit them. Sanjana is admitted to hospital in a critical state, after having suffered a head injury and broken bone. Ramana was reportedly drunk at the wheel. Alcohol bottles and glasses were found in the car, in which Ramana's two friends were also travelling. Sridevi is also admitted to hospital with a rib fracture.

 

Ironically, the accident happened on October 2, a dry day, when all liquor shops in India are closed. 

 

Rewind to three months back when in a very similar incident, Ramya was returning home after her first day in a new school, when a car driven by an inebriated engineering student Shravil lost control and rammed into the car in which Ramya's family was travelling. Ramya's uncle died, and after battling for life for ten days, both Ramya and her grandfather also passed away. 

 

Incidentally, Shravil was granted bail by the Hyderabad High Court only this Friday. Why? Because the police failed to file the chargesheet within the mandatory 90 days. This reflects poorly on its attitude towards cases of drunken driving, even when the crime committed by a drunk, unlicensed person snuffed out three lives. Sheer inefficiency or complicity, one would wonder.

 

At the time when Ramya was battling for her life, due to media highlighting the case, the traffic police in Hyderabad went on overdrive for a few days, conducting surprise checks. Three months down the line, it is clearly back to normal in Telangana. Reports suggest that the police did not conduct drunken driving checks this Sunday because it was assumed that since all wine shops were shut, everyone on the road will be sober. 

 

Mera Bharat Mahaan !

Close to 400 people die on India's roads every day. Over 60% of these deaths take place on India's highways where overspeeding is pretty much the norm and surveillance is lax. And when you put alcohol into the mix, you know you have let loose a monster on the road. The fact that Hyderabad city alone books 1200 cases of drunken driving every month shows the culture to drink and drive is rampant.

 

In Ramana's case, the bottles and glasses in the vehicle point to the fact that the trio was drinking on the move. The brazenness of it is revolting.

 

In every sense, Ramya's death was a licensed murder. In the case of Shravil and his drunk college students who were in the car, it was like playing a video game, driving the car at an unruly speed, killing zombies to earn points. Plus the thrill of flouting the laws of the land. 

 

Sanjana has met this fate because we as a nation do not care. We do not ensure that we make an example of offenders. In Shravil's case, the police are equally guilty of having allowed him to get away. When an incident happens, the powers-that-be are more happy mouthing a few lines to media cameras, vow to get after the offenders, put out a mandatory tweet or two. End of story. Ramya and Sanjana remain statistics.