Santosh Mane, the 39-year-old driver, who moved down people and vehicles in Pune on Wednesday, was treated by a psychiatrist, the driver's older brother Jhanak Mane told TheHindu on the phone from Satara.
“Yes, he was seeking treatment about two years ago. He had complained of uneasiness in the head… a sensation of pins and needles in the head. He would mutter to himself,” Jhanak Mane said.
He said his brother consulted psychiatrist Dilip Barute and was put on medication. “Now, the police have taken his case papers from the doctor,” he said. He broke down while speaking of his brother and the family back home in Solapur.
“Our father passed away and a condolence meeting was to be held shortly. I had asked him to take leave and come home, but he could not get leave. This morning, all of us got a shock when we learnt about what happened,” an inconsolable Jhanak Mane said.
Santosh had joined duty after about one-and-a-half months of treatment. “He would come home on Friday and leave for Pune the next day to join duty. Throughout the week, he stayed in Pune.”
Santosh, his brother said, has two sons and two daughters. They all go to school.
Dr. Barute said the family had brought him for treating “mania and schizophrenia.”
“The treatment was on for about one-and-a-half months. His condition improved. I cannot say if he continued to take his medicines after that or had stopped them. In many cases, patients stop medication when they feel better. Incidents [like the one on Wednesday] can happen, but this is an extreme case,” the doctor said.
However, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) said that Santosh's medical and leave records were all normal and there was no record of any medical treatment.
“The Managing Director personally checked his records of the last ten years,” Mukund Dhas, public relations officer, MSRTC told The Hindu on the phone. “He [Santosh] has not taken any medical leave or long leave in these ten years. The only time he went on leave was when his father died last year.”
Mr. Dhas said Santosh was on duty on Friday evening. “He drove from Gangapur in Karnataka to Pune. The MD also interrogated the conductor of the bus who said [Santosh] was completely normal. On Saturday, he was allotted morning duty at 10.30 a.m. He came at 8.15 a.m. and requested an early duty. He was told the duty time could not be changed; that it was not possible. He said, ‘okay' and that he would come back at 10.30 a.m. After that I don't know what happened, but he just took off with the bus. Some of our staff members went after him and tried to pull him out, but they could not as he picked up speed. The police vehicle which followed him for 20 minutes fired ten rounds, but could not stop him.”
In his 11 years of service as a driver, Santosh had only “four minor accidents,” Mr. Dhas said. “There is no record of any medical leave. We reimburse the medical bills. There is no long leave either. He was driving fine till yesterday. When he was caught, I am told he was talking nonsense. He said he did not remember anything. His co-workers also said his interactions with them were normal.”
Meanwhile, the MSRTC has formed a technical committee to look into the medical records of the over 37,000 drivers employed with them.
“The committee will examine leave and medial records and prepare a report within a month. Based on the report, measures will be taken,” Mr. Dhas said.
Besides announcing compensation, the MSRTC has said it would foot the bill of victims admitted to private hospitals.
Keywords: Pune bus accident