PATNA: As many as nine schoolchildren aged between nine and eleven were crushed to death under the wheels of a speeding Bolero car in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district while crossing a road near their school on Saturday.
At least 20 other people, including ten schoolchildren, were left injured in the accident that occurred on National Highway 77 at Ahiyapur-Jhapaha under Minapur police station area, about ten km off the district headquarters town of Muzaffarpur.
Gaurav Pandey, DSP (Muzaffarpur East), said, “The accident apparently occurred when the victims were about to cross the road. The driver of the speeding SUV that hit them fled after abandoning the vehicle. The injured people have been admitted to SKMCH (Sri Krishna Memorial College and Hospital).”
The dead schoolchildren were students of Dharampur Government Middle School that is located along the national highway. The killer Bolero car came at a breakneck speed and ran over the people standing on the roadside, said witnesses. The car had reportedly hit a truck a little distance before this accident and was trying to escape.
Even as police launched a hunt to trace and arrest the driver of the Bolero car, a row erupted after claims made by the local people that it belonged to a leader of the state’s ruling BJP and that he was sitting in the car when the accident occurred.
The car, bearing registration number BR 06 PA 7084, allegedly bore a BJP flag and a nameplate that said it belonged to “BJP state general secretary Manoj Baitha”. While the local people said Baitha was general secretary of BJP’s state Dalit wing, the party said there was no leader by that name.
“Anyone can put a BJP flag in their vehicle. Our party has no leader named Manoj Baitha. Police should be allowed to carry out investigation,” said BJP leader Devesh Chandra Thakur.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and several other leaders condoled the deaths. The state government announced an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh for the next kin of each dead child.