Family members of a doctor killed in a road accident allegedly involving the cavalcade of Union minister Smriti Irani said on Monday that she did not help the victim despite their begging with “folded hands”.
The allegations sparked a social media storm with hundreds of users accusing the minister of insensitivity – the latest controversy to hit Irani, who the Opposition accuse of trying to saffronise education and undermine caste-based discrimination and the suicide of scholar Rohith Vemula.
But local police said the vehicle that hit Dr Ramesh Nagar’s motorcycle was not part of the human resource development minister’s entourage – a claim repeated by Irani’s office.
Nagar was killed on Saturday night when his motorcycle was hit by a vehicle – a Honda City sedan allegedly part of the minister’s entourage -- on the Yamuna Expressway.
His 12-year-old daughter and nine-year-old nephew, riding pillion, were also injured. Irani was unhurt but her car suffered some damage.
Watch | Expressway accident victim’s daughter says Smriti Irani did not help
In a series of tweets after the incident, Irani said she “tried to help” people injured in the accident, which occurred when she was returning to Delhi from Vrindavan after attending a conclave of the BJP’s young wing.
“There was pile up of vehicles due to an accident on the expressway. Unfortunately, the police vehicle before mine and my car also crashed….tried to help injured who were lying on the road for quite some time and ensured they reach hospital. Pray for their safety.”
But Nagar’s daughter said the vehicle that hit her father was from the minister’s cavalcade.
“She chose not to pay heed to our pleas and sat in her car before moving away. Had she (Irani) helped us, my father would have been alive today,” the class 9 student told HT.
My sister literally pleaded with folded hands to Smriti Irani for help,but she did not stop-Abhishek,son of victim pic.twitter.com/ez7Mgi6zaf— ANI (@ANI_news) March 7, 2016
Another car hit Nagar after Irani’s vehicle crashed into the motorcycle, she said.
“My father attempted to get up but was struck again. He did not rise after that.”
Her brother, Abhishek Nagar, said Irani didn’t offer any help to the family. “My sister literally pleaded with folded hands to Smriti Irani for help, but she did not stop,” he added.
Nagar filed an FIR, where he said a rashly driven Honda City in the HRD minister’s cavalcade hit his father’s motorcycle.
“The driver of the car fled while the minister, Smriti Irani, without paying any attention to children lying injured, sat in her car and moved away,” the FIR said.
But police said the doctor’s motorcycle was struck by the Honda City which, in turn, was hit by two cars and an ambulance.
Private vehicle, which allegedly hit the biker, who later on died has nothing to do with HRD Minister's cavalcade: HRD Ministry Spokesperson— ANI (@ANI_news) March 7, 2016
The minister’s cavalcade reached the spot after this initial mishap and a pilot car rammed into the last vehicle of the pile-up on, police added
“The Honda City involved in accident with the motorcycle of a doctor was not from the minister’s cavalcade that reached the spot a little while after the accident,” the local police maintained.
The minister’s office also said the vehicle that hit Nagar wasn’t a part of Irani cavalcade and that she asked Mathura’s senior superintendent of police to arrange an ambulance “immediately”.
But Nagar’s daughter said they weren’t provided proper treatment at Mathura district hospital and that an ambulance was provided much later.
“Private vehicle, which allegedly hit the biker, who later on died has nothing to do with HRD minister’s cavalcade,” a ministry spokesperson said.
Superintendent of police (Mathura rural) Arun Kumar Singh said the Honda City was registered to Dimple, the daughter of Man Arora, a resident of Delhi. “The driver, believed to be a woman, fled from the spot,” he said.
Irani is not the first BJP leader to have faced allegations of neglecting victims of accident involving their vehicles.
Last year, actor-turned BJP MP from Mathura, Hema Malini, was accused of leaving behind a family after her Mercedes rammed into an Alto in Dausa, Rajasthan.
A four-year-old girl died in the accident while the MP escaped with minor injuries.
(with inputs from HTC, Delhi and agencies)