Pune: Nine people were
crushed to death and two dozen injured when a rogue bus driver
sped through busy streets here Wednesday, knocking down motorists,
pedestrians and vehicles like in a horror movie.
The half-hour mayhem began at 8.15 a.m. when Santosh Mane, 41,
used a master key to hijack a bus that had just reached Swargate
Depot from Satara and drove on the wrong side of crowded roads at
The driver of the hijacked bus, Santosh Hendre, and the depot's
traffic controller Ajit Limaye sprinted behind the bus.
But the maniac Mane smashed through the Maharashtra State Road
Transport Corp depot's steel gates and took a swift wrong turn to
the right into the oncoming traffic, mowing down a rickshaw and a
It was the start of a nightmare that shocked Maharashtra.
Dazed witnesses recalled that Mane spared no one and nothing as he
drove through Golibar Maidan, near the military cantonment, East
Street, Solapur Bazar, back to Golibar Maidan, Swargate and
By the time the bloodbath ended, thanks mainly to a group of
people who barged into the bus and overpowered the driver, some 30
to 40 vehicles had been crushed and overturned over 25-30 km of
There was blood on roads as the dead and wounded were rushed to
hospitals, some screaming away in agony.
The dead included four men and four women, aged between 19 and 46
years. The ninth person's identity was not known.
Five of those with multiple injuries were in serious condition, an
official told IANS.
"He just went berserk," Pune Police Commissioner Meeran Borwankar
said. "He went on ramming whatever vehicles were plying on the
"People on the roads literally threw children away to avoid being
crushed. The damage has been tremendous."
Another police officer called Mane "a nutcase", and added that
most of the damaged vehicles were taxis, private cars,
two-wheelers and cycles.
Borwankar added that roads at that time of the morning were
crowded with school-going children and people going to work.
College student Sharif Ibrahim Kutty who witnessed the murderous
run told reporters that he had never seen "anything so horrible in
"I saw him knocking down a woman, then a man. I ran after the bus.
Police were also pursuing him."
Kutty said he saw two policemen fired at the bus tyres but missed
the mark. "The bus then ran over the policemen and broke through
the police barricade. On this road alone he killed eight people."
As panic spread, police hurriedly put up barricades to block the
Assistant police inspector Pundalik Dhaigude, who followed Mane
for nearly 30 minutes, said the driver "looked very dangerous".
"His face showed stress and aggression. We tried to stop him but
he drove at a maddening speed on the wrong side, making it
difficult for us to keep pace with him," he said.
But Kutty disagreed. He said the driver's face was devoid of any
Mane was finally arrested near the Nilayam Talkies, thanks to some
spirited citizens as well as policemen.
"We have no idea why he took charge of the Satara bus," Borwankar
Mane, who lived in the bus depot, had reported for duty in the
morning but was told there were no spare buses. That is when he
got into the bus that had come from Satara and zoomed off.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chauhan, Deputy Chief
Minister Ajit Pawar and several politicians called on the injured
in hospitals and wished them speedy recovery.