Police on Friday arrested BJP lawmaker Hema Malini’s driver, a day after her Mercedes collided with a Maruti Alto in Rajasthan killing a two-year-old girl and leaving the actor and four others injured.

    He was produced in court and later granted bail. Officials said Uttar Pradesh resident Mahesh Thakur, the accused, was facing charges of culpable homicide and causing death by negligence.

    Television footage showed Mathura MP Hema Malini walking away from the spot with blood dripping down her face following the crash on National Highway 11 near Dausa district in the western state.

    The incident brought the spotlight back on India’s dangerous roads where about 200,000 people die every year in traffic accidents, according to WHO data. Last year, Hema Malini’s party colleague Gopinath Munde was killed in a car crash in Delhi nearly a week after the 64-year-old took office as the country’s rural affairs minister.

    While the infant travelling in the Maruti hatchback reportedly died on the spot, her parents, a four-year-old brother and an aunt are undergoing treatment at a government hospital in Jaipur.

    Hema Malini, who was in the back seat of the Mercedes, was admitted to a private medical centre with a nasal fracture and injuries to her forehead, cheeks and legs.

    “A surgery of debridement (removal of damaged tissues) and repair of lacerated wounds was carried out post-midnight,” said Pratim Tambole, facility director at the Fortis hospital. “It was a two-hour long process under general anaesthesia. She is now in post-operative intensive care unit.”

    The 66-year-old actor was going to Jaipur after visiting a temple in Rajasthan’s Karauli district when her car crashed into the Maruti Alto carrying the family headed to Lalsot city.

    Read: After criticism, Hema Malini expresses sorrow over child's death

    Car crash victims protest 'lavish attention' to Hema Malini

Gunmen stop minibuses, kill 14 in Afghanistan

  • Reuters, Kabul
  • |
  • Updated: Jul 26, 2014 14:04 IST

Gunmen intercepted two minibuses travelling through central Afghanistan and killed at least 14 passengers overnight, officials said on Friday.

Local officials in the remote, mountainous province of Ghor said most of the passengers were from the ethnic Hazara Shi'ite minority, but that could not be independently verified.

"The insurgents stopped two vans and after checking peoples' identifications cards, they separated 14 passengers from 32 others and shot them dead," said provincial governor Sayed Anwar Rahmati.

At least three women and a three-year-old child were among those killed.       

Sediq Sediqqi, an interior ministry spokesman, accused Taliban insurgents of carrying out the attack, saying it was "aimed at instilling fear in the people".

The Taliban denied involvement.

"The Islamic Emirate strongly condemns the killings and will try to find and punish the perpetrators," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a text message to Reuters, referring to the government toppled by U.S.-led forces over 12 years ago.

The Taliban, an austere Sunni militant group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, has been fighting U.S.-led and Afghan forces since they were removed after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. targets.

Many of the Hazaras - believed to be descended from Mongol invaders - suffered enormously under Taliban rule and the Shi'ite minority saw many of its communities levelled.

Many were killed and buried in mass graves or thrown into wells. They still believe they are treated as second-class citizens and that President Hamid Karzai has done little to improve their lot.

 

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