Bihar Police on Monday said they have filed an FIR against Sitamarhi BJP leader Manoj Baitha and were in the process of arresting him in the Muzaffarpur hit-and-run case in which nine children lost their lives on Saturday. Sources also claimed that Baitha was himself driving the Bolero, which is registered in his name, but police said investigations were on. A mobile phone was seized from the Bolero car on Monday.
Police sources said CCTV footage obtained from a toll tax point at Runi Saidpur in Sitamarhi, about 35 km from the accident spot, reportedly showed Baitha sitting in the car at 12.38 pm. The accident took place around 1.30 pm.
Meanwhile, RJD leaders protested outside the Bihar Assembly over the incident, demanding immediate action from the government. Bihar deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi on Monday said strictest action would be taken against the accused irrespective of his party affiliation. “No question of saving the person because of relations with BJP or RJD. I called Muzaffarpur SP yesterday & said strictest action should be taken. Innocent children were killed & there is no bigger crime than this,” he said.
Following the accident, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced cancellation of Holi celebrations at PNT Community House in Patna planned for March 1. Congress President Rahul Gandhi took the opportunity to assail Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over the liquor ban in the state. “In dry Bihar, one drunk BJP leader killed nine students by running over them. Is this the reality of the liquor ban in Bihar?” Gandhi asked.
‘नशामुक्त बिहार’ में नशे में धुत एक भाजपा नेता ने 9 मासूम बच्चों को मार दिया!
नीतीश जी क्या यही है आपकी शराबबंदी की सच्चाई?
आपकी अंतरात्मा की आवाज आज किसे बचा रही है – आरोपी भाजपा नेता को या बिहार में शराब की सच्चाई को?
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) February 26, 2018
Nine children of Dharampur Middle School were killed by the speeding SUV when the students were crossing the national highway on their way back home, triggering outrage in the area. Kumar, had on Sunday expressed concerns over the increasing number of road rage cases in the state and assured “strict action against the guilty”.
According to police, three people fled the spot after the car knocked down the children, aged between seven and 13 years. Confirming that Baitha was a functionary with the party’s Sitamarhi district unit, Bihar BJP spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan had said: “What we have learnt so far is that Baitha was not in the vehicle.” Leader of Opposition in Assembly, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, has accused the BJP of trying to shield its leader. “There seems to be an attempt to shield Manoj Baitha.”