Medical report not divulged, colleagues say he was under medication
The police refused to disclose the results of the medical tests of Santosh Mane, the bus driver who went berserk on Wednesday morning, killing eight and injuring 32 persons. Soon after the incident, a team of expert doctors checked Mane, who has been sent to police custody till February 3. However, on Thursday, doctors and the police refused to divulge details about the report and whether it included any tests to determine Mane's mental stability.
The Dean of Sassoon Hospital told The Hindu that since the case was medico-legal in nature, the report had been kept confidential. He said the doctors submitted it to the police on Wednesday night. But the police said they had not yet gone through the report. “All I can tell you is, his [Mane's] blood and urine samples were sent for analysis. I cannot say anything more,” Dr. Ajay Chandanwale said.
The Crime Branch, which took over the case from the Swargate police station on Thursday afternoon, said that since the papers were still being transferred, it was not aware of the report while the Swargate police stated it had not received the report either.
Meanwhile, the police said on record that they were not looking into the mental illness angle in the case. “A person drives the bus properly on the previous day. He interacts well with his colleagues, comes back from Gangapur. His colleagues have said he was normal. He also took good rest before joining work on Wednesday morning. He returned from Gangapur at 7.30 p.m. on Tuesday. His duty was slated at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday,” Ujjwala Pawar, District Government Pleader said in court on Thursday, pointing that the accused was keeping well.
Mane hijacked a State transport bus and went berserk on the streets for 45 minutes on Wednesday morning, trampling vehicles and hitting people. Witnesses and some policemen present on the spot said that when he was caught and questioned, he was speaking incoherently. “We kept on asking him why he did what he did. But he kept on talking nonsense,” said a policeman.
His family has alleged that Mane was suffering from mental illness for which he had taken treatment from a doctor in Solapur. But Mane's employer, Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, rubbished the claim. MSRTC Public Relations Officer Mukund Dhas said Mane had not taken any long leave for treatment of any illness. “He had taken only 15 days' leave last year when his father passed away,” he said.
MSRTC officials said his past record does not show any signs of mental illness. “He never engaged in fights with any passenger or colleague. There were no major accidents recorded in his records. He appeared normal and was driving well till Tuesday night,” an official said.
Officials said that contrary to the family's claim, the MSRTC never received Mane's resignation letter. “Why would we stop someone from resigning? If someone wants to resign, we cannot decline to accept the resignation letter,” said a highly placed officer in MSRTC. He said it was the responsibility of the doctor who treated Mane and Mane's family members to tell the employer about his mental illness, if he suffered from any.
Mane's colleagues at Swargate Bus Depot said they had often seen him taking medication. No one asked him the reason for the medication though.
Other colleagues said he was a quiet man who kept mostly to himself. “He did not talk much. At times, he behaved whimsical,” said Dadaram Dagdu Rawde (56) who has known Mane for a decade now.
A colleague alleged that corruption in the allotment of duties irked Mane. “He had asked for a different duty. But they take money here to allot the duty timings you want,” he said.