Muzaffarpur Accident: BJP Suspends Baitha For Six Years
The BJP on Monday, 26 February, suspended its member Manoj Baitha for six years, after he was booked for a car accident that left nine school children dead, and over 20 injured in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district on 24 February.
Baitha was named in the FIR lodged on Sunday, 25 February, over the accident. After school ended on Saturday 24 February, the students were waiting to cross the road in front of the school, when Baitha’s speeding SUV rammed into them.
Baitha has been accused of driving in an inebriated state, PTI reported.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted on the matter, asking Bihar CM Nitish Kumar to come clean about the incident.
The opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar alleged that the person driving the SUV was "a drunk BJP leader" whom the Nitish Kumar government was trying to shield.
Baitha Booked For Culpable Homicide
“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 for up to 10 years if proven guilty, The Telegraph reported.
However, speaking to the media, Bihar DGP PK Thakur said it is not yet known if the car involved in the accident belonged to the BJP worker.
While the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJP) accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of protecting its worker, 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.”
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.
“More than 30 hours have passed but the accused is still on the run. Are they 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 about 10 kms from the district headquarters of the Minapur police station, when school ended 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 kin of those killed, and proper medical treatment to those injured.
(With inputs from PTI, DNA, IANS, The Telegraph)
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