A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker was named in the FIR lodged on Sunday, 25 February, over the car accident that left nine school children dead and over 20 injured in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district. The students were waiting in front of the school to cross the road after the school was over when the accident occurred.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted on the matter, asking Bihar CM Nitish Kumar to come clean about the incident.

‘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?

“According to the registration papers of the vehicle, it belongs to one Manoj Baitha, who is a resident of Sitamarhi district,”Muzaffarpur Senior Superintendent of Police Vivek Kumar told DNA.

Baitha has been booked under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and could be jailed up to 10 years if proven guilty, The Telegraph reported.

However, speaking to the media, Bihar DGP PK Thakur it is not yet know if the car involved in the accident belonged to the BJP worker.

The culprit has been identified, we have seized a mobile phone also from inside the car.

While the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJP) accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of protecting its worker, the BJP leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, have denied any association with Baitha.

The RJD MLA from Minapur, Munna Yadav, who rushed to the spot after the mishap, alleged that the driver of the vehicle was “definitely inebriated. There has been no control on consumption of alcohol despite the state government’s claims of prohibition.”

According to DNA, Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav shared a photograph showing Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Baitha together. Additionally, closed circuit television (CCTV) camera footage obtained from a toll plaza also showed the Bolero sporting a BJP flag.

The speeding SUV killed at least nine children and left over 20 injured.
The speeding SUV killed at least nine children and left over 20 injured.
(Photo: ANI)

“The vehicle has a BJP board attached to it and the driver was drunk at the time of the incident. BJP leaders are totally drunk in power,” Yadav told IANS.

“More than 30 hours have passed but the accused is still on the run. Are they are waiting for him to come out of his inebriated state?” DNA quoted Yadav as saying.

When contacted by The Telegraph, Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai claimed that Baitha was not a party office-bearer but admitted that he “might be associated” with the party. He also assured that action would be taken against whoever was responsible for the fatal accident.

The heart-rending incident occurred under Minapur police station area, about 10 km from the district headquarters, when the school got over and the children were returning home.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy, Sushil Kumar Modi, condoled the tragic incident and ordered a “speedy probe and tough action against the guilty driver.” On 25 February, a day after the tragic accident, Kumar also chaired a meeting over road safety.

They also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of those killed and proper medical treatment to those injured.

“All the injured, said to be around 20 in number, have been rushed to to the Shri Krishna Medical College and Hospital for treatment. The condition of some of them was stated to be critical,” he said.