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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Bihar hit-and-run case: Manoj Baitha, owner of SUV that mowed down 9 kids, surrenders

Manoj Baitha was suspended from BJP party’s membership for six years for his involvement in the accident amid Opposition’s clamour for strict action again him.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2018 22:43 IST
Ajay Kumar
Ajay Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
At least nine schoolchildren were crushed to death by a speeding SUV in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district on Saturday.
At least nine schoolchildren were crushed to death by a speeding SUV in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district on Saturday. (HT Photo)

Suspended Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) leader Manoj Baitha surrendered before the local police in the wee hours of Wednesday, four days after a Bolero he was allegedly driving in an inebriated condition mowed down nine school children in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district.

Baitha, who also sustained injuries in the Saturday’s accident, was sent to Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH) for treatment in police custody.

Soon after the accident he went into hiding, causing a major embarrassment to the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in the state.

Top opposition leaders, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi, took a dig at the state government for failing to arrest Baitha, a district BJP general secretary.

They alleged that the government was shielding the accused as he belonged to the BJP, a constituent of the JD (U)-led ruling coalition.

The Bihar assembly also witnessed uproarious scenes on Tuesday with opposition leaders staging protests demanding Baitha’s immediate arrest.

Sources in the BJP said Baitha, in his early forties, was pressurised by the party’s leadership to surrender.

Police, however, said constant pressure they generated on the absconder by raiding various places worked and he was left with no other option, but to give in.

“Police actions have forced Baitha to surrender,” senior superintendent of police (SSP), Vivek Kumar said.

“We raided no less than 25 different places to locate him. Our constant pressure compelled Baitha to come out of his hiding,” he said.

The SSP added they have ample evidences to prove that Baitha was driving the vehicle that ran over the school children.

“We have eyewitness accounts and CCTV footage that give a clear picture to conclude he was on the driving seat,” he said.

Baitha, according to police, underwent treatment for his injuries he received in the accident, before fleeing to Nepal.

“His wounds required stitches and he was in terrible pain when he surrendered,” the SSP said.

Following the incident, Baitha was suspended and removed from primary membership of the party for six years.

Eldest among nine siblings, Baitha, a native of Fatahpur village under Sonbarsa block in Sitamarhi district, had a phenomenon rise in the last 15 years due to his political connections.

People at his native village said he was a washerman and used to do household works before he stepped into politics by embracing Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) a decade ago.

“Like every unemployed young man, he would often worry for his future and seek a job here and there. Soon after joining politics, he got into brick kiln business,” said Sharfuddin Mian, a septuagenarian from his native place.

“He was highly ambitious,” said his cousin, Rajesh Kumar. “He can go to any extreme to fulfill his dreams,” he added.

Baitha joined BJP in 2014. Since then, he served the party in Muzaffarpur in different capacities.

First Published: Feb 28, 2018 13:58 IST

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