NEW DELHI: Union Rural Development Minister Gopinath Munde died of multiple internal injuries and cardiac arrest suffered following a road accident in central Delhi in the early morning on Tuesday.
64-year-old Munde, who made his entry into the Union Cabinet for the first time last week, was on his way to the airport when his Maruti Suzuki SX4 car was hit by a Tata Indica car at Prithviraj Road-Tughlak Road intersection in the heart of the capital.
Delhi Police said the Intelligence Bureau and the Special Cell were investigating whether there was any conspiracy angle behind the accident.
Munde was taken to AIIMS Trauma Centre at 6.30 AM by his personal assistant and driver and was declared dead at 7:20 AM.
"The minister has died of multiple internal injuries. No external wound was found on his body. When he was brought to Trauma Centre, his pulse and hearth beat were not working," AIIMS spokesperson Dr Amit Gupta said after a team of doctors conducted a postmortem on his body.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said Munde suffered cervical fractures and oxygen to the brain and lungs may have been cut off following the injuries.
Vardhan said Munde's liver had tear at 2-3 places and there was one-and-half litres of blood in his abdomen because of the injury.
"The major thing that cost him very heavily was a fracture of the cervical spines C1 and C2. When you have fracture at C1 and C2, the blood supply at the brain gets cut off because the vertebral artery gets damaged immediately," he said.
A source at AIIMS said the Rural Development Minister died of the sudden shock as he suffered a cardiac arrest.
Police said Gurvinder Singh, driver of the Indica car which allegedly hit Munde's car after jumping red light has been booked for rash driving and causing death by negligence after investigations.
"An FIR has been registered against Singh under section 279 and 304(A) at Tughlak Road Police Station and he was arrested after prima facie he was found at fault of jumping the red light and over speeding," said Additional Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) SBS Tyagi.
Giving details of the incident, police said Munde's car was coming from Prithviraj Road and was crossing the intersection to go on Safdarjung Road. The Indica car came from Aurobindo Marg at a high speed and hit Munde's car from the left side where the Union Minister was sitting.
"Indica's bonnet and bumper were totally damaged due to the impact. The car skid for 31 feet from the point of impact, marks of which are there on the road. This prima facie suggests that the car was being driven at a high speed," said Tyagi.
Munde, who was accompanied by his Assistant Personal Secretary Surendra Nair and driver Virendra Kumar in the car did not stop on the spot and headed straight to the hospital.
Nair later told police that the Union Minister had asked for water after the accident and had asked them to be taken to the hospital before he lost consciousness.
The AIIMS has handed over the postmortem report to the investigators.
Indica Car Driver Jumped Red Light: Police
Munde's driver Virendra Kumar has told investigators that the signal was green when they passed it and there were 26 seconds left before it would have turned red again.
Interestingly, it was Singh who had made a PCR call at 6:44 AM to the police after the accident took place claiming that a car with a red beacon hit his vehicle and fled.
He was brought to the Tughlak road police Station and as it emerged that it was he who had broken the red light and hit the SX4 car which led to Munde's death, he was arrested.
According to police, he later confessed to his crime to his interrogators saying "Yes, I committed a mistake."
"He has told us that the Indica car belonged to him. He works for a company which was contracted by a five star hotel at Janpath to provide transportation facility to its guest. He was going to report for duty when the accident took place. It seems that he was getting late and was speeding to reach on time when he jumped the red light and the accident took place," said Tyagi.
Police's forensics team will reconstruct the incident to find out the exact circumstances of the accident and will also substantiate the speed at which the cars were travelling. A special software of the Delhi Traffic Police will also be used to determine these things. The crime team of the Delhi Police was also called on the spot to pick crucial evidences.