Life couldn’t have looked better for Charu Khandal. Just 28, she had recently won the National Award for Best Special Effects for the film Ra.One and her engagement was a few months away.
All that changed yesterday. Early Sunday morning, while returning from a party she had thrown to celebrate the award, her auto rickshaw got hit by a speeding Honda City. She along with her companion were seriously injured. Charu suffered multiple fractures, her spine shattered in several paces. Doctors have told her family her chances of survival are slim. If Charu does pull through, she will be in a wheelchair.
You would think the driver of the Honda City, who according to reports had alcohol above permissible limits, would be in jail. In fact he was out on bail in just a couple of hours, for a measly Rs 5000 (US$100).
India perhaps has the weakest law on drunken driving in the world. It is a bailable offence. You can get out on little as Rs 2000 (US$40) if you are a first time offender. No wonder then that every other day newspapers report people dying in incidents of drunken driving, most of them poor pavement dwellers who have nowhere to sleep at night.
How many more incidents will it take before we campaign for a tough law on drunken driving? What exists is a joke. Does something have to happen to people like us, our families and friends, before we speak out? How many more Charus will it take?