A phone call from the police on Saturday changed their lives in a second.
The family of Bhawan Das – a 60-year-old rickshaw trolley puller – was barely out of bed in the morning when the phone rang. Das was informed that his only son, 31-year-old Jethanand, had been mowed down by a BMW car that was driven errantly by an MLA’s son the previous night.
Jethanand was unmarried, and used to work as a salesman at a readymade garments shop in Badi Chaupar, said Inder Kumar, his brother-in-law. “He was working late that day because the shop had delayed the closing time on account of Eid.”
Jethanand’s employer had called his phone that night to ensure that he had reached home safe, only to speak to a policeman on the other end. This was how Jethanand’s body was identified.
For the family of another victim, 45-year-old Vishnu Lekhwani, they remained unaware of his death until much later on Saturday. His relatives had to make enquiries at various police stations and hospitals before finding him.
Lekhwani’s nephew, Harish Kumar visited hospitals and police stations looking for him. When they yielded nothing, he then turned to mortuaries. He began looking after his aunt called up in the morning saying Lekhwani had not returned the previous night and wasn’t answering any calls either.
Enraged at the incident, Kumar demanded that the culprit be prosecuted.
“He had three sisters but no brother. His family is ruined. I demand strict action against the MLA’s son,” he Kumar.
The third victim – the autorickshaw driver – was identified as Kailash, but police were yet to contact his family.
The accident took place on late on Friday night when a BMW car rammed into an auto and a police van near St Xavier’s school. Aside from the three deaths, four police personnel were injured, including an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) who is being treated at Sawai Man Singh hospital.
In his statement to the police, the ASI alleged that the car was being driven at a speed of over 120-km per hour.
“I was sitting on the front seat of the PCR van along with the driver. First we heard an earsplitting crash and even before we could realise that a BMW had crashed into the autorickshaw, the car hit our van from the rear.”
The police officer had hit his head on the dashboard from the impact, aside from injuring his elbow. The remaining personnel in the van also sustained injuries.
“Due to the initial shock it took us some time to understand what had happened. Apparently, the BMW had lost control after ramming into the autorickshaw. I am sure that Siddharth, 20, was driving the car. I saw him behind the wheel,” he said.
Siddharth Mahariya, the son of independent MLA Nandkishore Mahariya, is being held by police for the accident. It is believed that he was driving the car and was under the influence. Police also said the 20-year-old had failed a breath analyser test.
However, Nandkishore has countered the police’s version of events, claiming a driver was handling the car and had fled after the accident.
Maharia also said that the auto had collided with the car but CCTV footage shows the car hitting the auto.