Six students who had just given their Class X boards with the Bihar State Education Board died on their way to Sirsa, where they were going to work and put together money to be able to pay for their next session in school.
Three more died with them and three others were injured in the early morning accident on the Agra-Kanpur highway near Mandi Samiti in Agra on Thursday.
Nagendra Kumar, 15, Guddu Kumar, Pawan and Vipin, all 16, and Vikas and Surendra Kumar, both 17, were crushed to death when the car they were in lost control, swerved to the wrong side, and rammed into a container truck coming from Agra around 5 am. The driver, Upendra Paswan, 28, Babloo Prajapati, 25 — both from Jharkhand — and Rajesh Kumar, 17, from Bihar, were also killed. Three others — Suraj, 35, Sujeet, 20, and Chhotu, 17 — sustained serious injuries in the collision and have been hospitalised in a critical state.
“The students were all from the Baraha and Deoria villages (in Gaya). Their exams had just ended earlier this month. There are two months to go before the next session. It is common practice there to send children out to work so they can pay their way to Class XI,” their tutor Parveen Kumar, who runs the Jai Maa Sharda Coaching Centre, told from Gaya. “The closest higher secondary school from their villages is 30 km away. Most families in these villages are Dalit and very poor. They make a living by selling firewood from the jungle. They can’t afford to pay for their children’s education. And there are no jobs here. They have to send their children outside the state.”
Prajapati was their “employment contact”. He works with a catering company in Sirsa and was going to get them jobs there on a daily-wage basis. They would work in the two-month gap between sessions, get enough money for tuition and make their way back in time for the new academic session. “Pawan and Vipin were very sharp, especially at maths,” Parveen said. The results for the Class X boards are expected in April.
“The car, which was registered in Jharkhand, was completely crushed in the accident,” said Agra SSP Babloo Kumar, adding, “We have informed all families, of the deceased and the injured.” SHO of Itmad-ud-Daulah, Sanjay Tyagi, under whose jurisdiction the accident took place, told, “The bodies have been sent for autopsy. After that, some relatives of theirs from Sirsa will take them.”