In scenes reminiscent of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, a man was killed and 16 others critically injured after a speeding car ploughed through a procession in Chhattisgarh’s Jashpur district Friday. People were on their way to immerse a Durga idol when the incident took place.
Jashpur police said two men, Babloo Vishwakarma (21) and Shishupal Sahu (26), residents of Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh, were arrested after the incident in Pathalgaon, 113 km from the district headquarters. Their vehicle was damaged by local residents who chased it, police said.
A video clip that did the rounds of social media showed the car mowing down people and speeding away. Others in the procession chased and stopped the vehicle, before damaging its windshield and windows.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, in a Twitter post, called the incident “sad and heart-rending”.
“The accused have been immediately arrested. Action has also been taken against police officers found prima facie guilty. Have ordered an investigation, no one will be spared. Justice will be done,” he said while offering his condolences.
Eyewitnesses claimed the car was carrying what appeared to be an illegal consignment in brown packets and was trying to evade police checkposts. Police did not have any immediate comment on the claim of the eyewitnesses.
“Both accused are residents of Madhya Pradesh and the car registration is also from Madhya Pradesh. They were passing through Chhattisgarh when the incident occurred. We are investigating further,” a police officer said.
Singrauli SP Virendra Pratap Singh said two previous offences, one of domestic violence and the other of diesel theft, had been lodged against Sahu in 2016.
Block medical officer James Minj said one person was brought dead while 16 others were injured. Two among the injured were referred to other hospitals while 14 were being treated at the district hospital.
According to police, the situation in Pathalgaon area was tense with people protesting on the streets, demanding action against the guilty. District officials were at the spot, trying to control the situation.
In the evening, the state government, in a statement, said that a police ASI was suspended after the incident. The Home department sent Bilaspur IG Ratan Lal Dangi to Jashpur.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in a Twitter post, called the incident “very sad”.
“The Chhattisgarh government is expected to make arrangements for proper treatment of the injured and provide all possible help to the victims,” he said.
Incidentally, Baghel had gone to UP after the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and had criticised Yogi Adityanath.
“The spirits of drug mafia have increased in Chhattisgarh. Now will those who take out religious processions be crushed like this? Jashpur SP should be removed immediately. 50 lakh compensation to the kin of the dead and immediate arrangements should be made for the treatment of the injured,” he said.
BJP leader Vishnudev Sai, in a statement, called for a Jashpur bandh on Saturday. “We want the SP suspended. Family of deceased should get compensation of Rs 1 crore and the injured Rs 25 lakh,” he said.
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