BHOPAL: A truck driver speeding his vehicle to attend to wife and newborn daughter at hospital rammed the truck into an SUV forming part of the motorcade of newly elected Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha Speaker Hina Kawre, killing three cops and a private driver instantly in Naxal affected Balaghat district on Sunday-Monday intervening night.
Though Kawre escaped the accident unhurt, the incident still assumed significance, as two threatening letters (written in the name of Naxal operatives) were received by the MP Assembly deputy speaker over the last fortnight.
The incident happened at around 1.30 am on the Balaghat-Gondia state highway, while Kawre was returning to native village Kirnapur-Sonpuri, after attending series of programs organized earlier in Balaghat town on Sunday to felicitate her on the first visit to home district Balaghat, after being elected MP Vidhan Sabha deputy speaker.
"Just when we were passing through the state highway, our pilot vehicle spearheading the fleet of vehicles spotted a speeding truck coming from the opposite direction. Both, the pilot vehicle and my vehicle managed to get out of the speeding truck's passage in time, but the third vehicle in the fleet, a Bolero jeep which was our follow on vehicle boarding cops collided head-on with the truck," said 33-year-old Kawre on Monday.
Both, the truck as well as the SUV boarding the cops overturned, killing three cops and the SUV driver instantly. Another cop injured in the accident was rushed to a hospital in adjoining Nagpur, where his condition is stated critical.
The deceased have been identified as sub-inspector Harshvardhan Solanki (30), head constable Hamid Sheikh (50), constable Rahul Kolare and Bolero jeep's driver Sachin Sahare (22).
"Primary probe has revealed that it was the truck driver Govind Markam's mistake which led to the killer mishap. He has been arrested and is being grilled by police," said SP Balaghat Jaidevan A.
According to key sources in Balaghat police connected with the investigations, the truck driver was speeding the truck as he was in a haste to attend his pregnant wife, who had delivered a baby girl just a few hours back at a hospital in Balaghat only.
The Naxal Angle During the last fortnight, Kawre, the two-time Congress MLA from Lanji seat of Balaghat district had received two threatening letters written in the name of Naxal operatives, including a wanted Naxal Pahar Singh, who interestingly was arrested a few months back in adjoining Chhattisgarh.
In both the letters, Hina had been asked to pay Rs 20 lakh extortion till January 14, failing which she would be eliminated. Similar letters were received by Sanjay Uikey, the Congress MLA from adjoining Baihar seat.
Both the letters were handed over to Balaghat police and Kawre and Uikey's security was subsequently beefed up.
A senior police official at the MP state police headquarters in Bhopal, while confirming about the two letters, added that though the probe into the accident has revealed that it was the mistake by the truck driver which caused the killer mishap, still we're also probing any other possibility, particularly in the wake of the receipt of the two letters written in Naxal operative's name.
Importantly, more than 19 years back, in December 1999, Hina Kawre's father Likhiram Kawre (then transport minister in Digvijaya Singh-led Congress government in MP) was brutally murdered by a group of Naxals outside his house in Balaghat district.
Meanwhile, senior leaders of both, the ruling Congress and opposition BJP have demanded a thorough probe into all possible angles related to the incident. The Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava said the detailed probe is essential as the newly elected MP Assembly's deputy speaker's father was murdered by Naxals only.