The driver of the private school van had his earphones on and was driving on the wrong side of the road. The milk tanker driver was allegedly under the influence of alcohol, police said.
A seven-year-old girl was killed and 17 students were injured after a milk-tanker rammed into a private school van on Thursday morning near the Kanhaiya Nagar metro station in northwest Delhi, prompting the city government to order a magisterial probe into the incident.
The accident occurred due to the negligence of the two drivers, a senior police officer said.
The driver of the private school van had his earphones on and was driving on the wrong side of the road. The milk tanker driver was allegedly under the influence of alcohol, he added.
The police have charged the 38-year-old milk tanker driver, Sanjeev, with 'culpable homicide not amounting to murder'. The alcohol content in his blood was 195mg/100ml. He has been arrested, another officer said.
Vijay, 20, who was driving the school van was prosecuted under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act.
In another incident, three school children suffered minor injuries when they were hit by a car in northwest Delhi's Bharat Nagar. The driver has been arrested, the police said.
The police said the two drivers involved in the accident near the Kanhaiya Nagar metro station were habitual offenders.
While the driver of the private school van had been challaned eight times for various offences, the driver of the milk van had faced action on 17 occasions.
The school van was carrying 18 children who were to be dropped at two schools in Keshav Puram -- Kendriya Vidyalaya and Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, No 1, the police said, adding that legal action was being taken against the drivers.
The school van was hit by the other vehicle while taking a turn.
During an inquiry, it emerged that the Maruti Omni van was going towards Tri Nagar. The milk tanker, which was coming from Inderlok, hit the van from behind causing it to topple over, the police said.
All the children are aged between seven and 15. Most of them are residents of JJ Colony, Wazirpur.
The deceased was identified as Garima, a Class 3 student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Keshav Puram.
Most of the injured children were admitted to the Deep Chand Bandhu Hospital. Later, they were referred to different hospitals, including AIIMS, Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, and Sushruta Trauma Centre.
Four of the children are in the ICU of the Sushruta Trauma Centre. One of them suffered injuries to the stomach and is being operated on, while three others have suffered head injuries and shoulder fractures.
Six students were admitted to the LNJP Hospital.
"They have sustained multiple fractures and are undergoing medical investigations," said Dr J C Passey, medical director at the LNJP.
Other injured students were undergoing treatment at the Deep Chand Bandhu Hospital.
Witnesses claimed that the school van was carrying children beyond its capacity, while the milk tanker was being driven at a high speed.
"We heard a loud noise when the milk tanker ploughed into the school van. The school van toppled over due to the impact. Some of the children lost consciousness, while others were bleeding and screaming for help," said an autorickshaw driver.
Before the police could arrive, locals had begun the rescue work and the job of taking the children to a nearby hospital.
Garima's father Sandeep said they received a call about the accident around 7.30 am.
"We frantically scoured for our daughter in all the hospitals in the area. We later learnt that she was dead. We are in a state of shock," he said.
"My child never told me that the driver would drive rashly. I have a three-and-a-half-year old son and I will be scared when he starts school. The drivers of both the vehicles should be given strict punishment so that it acts as an example for others who risk the safety of children," he said.
A relative of the deceased claimed that 'the regular driver' had not come to pick her up on Thursday, and he another person was filling in.
The police said they were porbing the allegation.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal ordered a magisterial probe into the incident and directed Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash to submit a report within three days.
"The chief secretary is directed to get the magisterial inquiry conducted by the district magistrate/deputy commissioner concerned and submit the report within three days," Kejriwal said in his order to Prakash.
The incident has again brought in the spotlight the issue of unregulated school transport in Delhi-NCR.
According to traffic police officers and transport department officials, the school vans parents hire at low monthly charges flout norms by carrying children beyond capacity.
According to the data shared by the police, 3,807 school cabs were prosecuted last year, and action has been taken against 875 vehicles as of April 25 this year.
"Parents are of course concerned about their child's safety, but the high amount charged by schools for providing transport at times forces them to choose private vehicles. Schools should also try to keep their transport charges minimum," said a member of All India Parents Association.