A 34-year-old biker named Jagruti Viraj Hogale died on Sunday whilst riding from Bandra to Jawhar. She was crushed by a truck after she swerved to avoid a pothole on the Jawhar-Dahanu highway.
She was making a trip to Jawhar, which is famous for its waterfalls, as part of a weekend getaway with friends. She was leading a group of bikers when the incident took place. Jawhar was a member of the all-women biker group, Bikerni, which “aims to spearhead women empowerment through the medium of motorcycles and encourage women to go on adventures”. She was known as one of India’s finest riders.
Shockingly, police have registered a case of negligent driving against her, which is bizarre, because I don’t think you can charge a person for a crime after their death, and certainly not for being negligent and causing their own death. The police, in their statements to the Hindustan Times, also implied that she should have “shown better judgement while riding her bike”, which is a terribly insensitive and disrespectful thing to say about someone’s death, particularly a death that was caused by a pothole, which it’s the government’s responsibility to fix.
Hogale’s husband rightly says that he doesn’t think the pothole is responsible for her death, but the government. He mentioned that he had taken the same route a few days before his wife’s death on the highway, and noticed that the entire stretch is riddled with potholes. Hogale’s brother-in-law Vishal also pointed out to Mid-Day that “if the authorities had taken the road repairs seriously, [his] sister-in-law would not have died.”
Several biker groups took to social media to offer their condolences and recognise her death. They, too, blamed civic authorities, and called for action to be taken against them for the dilapidated state of roads and highways.
Of course, Maharashtra Public Works Minister Chandrakant Patil has just decided that the accident simply did not take place due to potholes, but due to rain.
The BMC has come under lots of fire lately, particularly for its utter negligence in maintaining roads and fixing potholes. Bombay’s RJ Malishka recently released a song on Mumbai’s potholes, the monsoon and the BMC’s inefficiency, following which members of the Shiv Sena felt the need to slap a Rs. 500 crore defamation case against Red FM. The BMC also vengefully issued a Malishka and her family with a notice for “mosquito-breeding”, basically as a punishment for calling out their lack of action publicly.