UP villagers blame ‘phoolan wali gaadi’ for 5-year old’s death
There is a steady flow of mourners to the Colonelganj residence of Vishwanath Lal whose five-year-old son Shiva died on Saturday after he was hit by a vehicle allegedly in the convoy of Uttar Pradesh’s cabinet minister Om Prakash Rajbhar.
They are angry and blame the “phoolanwali gaadi (flower bedecked vehicle)” for the death and the minister for not even caring to rush the child to hospital.
Rajbhar, whose Soheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), is an ally of the ruling BJP in the state, has denied the vehicle was part of his cavalcade.
But the family says otherwise.
“Hamka toh yohi batawa gaya rahe ki phoolan wali gaadi maaris hai (I was told that it was a flower bedecked car that hit my grandson),” Jawahar Lal told HT over the phone from Colonelganj in Gonda district, about 120km from the state capital Lucknow, on Sunday.
The boy was with his aunt at the time of the accident and Rajbahar was on way back to Lucknow from Behta-Gaurasinghpur village in Gonda district.
Repeated calls to Rajbahar since Saturday have gone unanswered.
The car was not part of the entourage but right behind it, his party general secretary Shashi Pratap Singh quoted the minister as saying.
The villagers HT spoke to over the phone said one of the three vehicles moving with Rajbhar was covered in flowers, backing the grandfather’s claim.
“Eyewitnesses say the motorcade briefly slowed down after hitting the boy before speeding away,” Jai Prakash, one of the mourners at Lal’s house, told HT.
“The accident may be unintentional but what about the insensitivity shown by the minister who left a child to die by the roadside,” he said.
In his police complaint, Vishvanath Lal mentioned “mantriji ke kaafile ki ek gaadi (a vehicle in minister’s convoy)”, Colonelganj police station inspector Sadanand Singh said.
“An FIR has been registered against unidentified persons for causing the death of a child. No one has been named,” Singh said.
The villagers, who had blocked the road in protest, accuse the police of not even trying to stop the cavalcade and going slow in the case.
Rajbhar said he came to know of the accident 50km away from the site. “The minister wanted to return. He told me that perhaps the vehicle that ran over the child was not part of his motorcade. In any case, a probe has been ordered,” Shashi Pratap Singh said on Sunday.
The inquiry was ordered by chief minister Yogi Adityanath who also announced a Rs 5-lakh compensation for the family.
“Legally there can’t be a case against the minister since he has already said he wasn’t even aware of the accident and came to know about it later,” Lucknow-based criminal lawyer Rohit Kant said. At the most, his driver could be tried for causing death due to negligent driving, he said.
The incident came two days after a farmer of Orai in Uttar Pradesh’s Jalaun district alleged that 35-vehicle strong cavalcade of another minister, Jai Kumar Singh Jaiki, drove through his fields and ruined the seedlings that sprouted recently.