A five-year-old boy died after being hit allegedly by a car in the motorcade of Uttar Pradesh minister Om Prakash Rajbhar near Colonelganj in Gonda district, following which Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has sought a report from the state police chief. Rajbhar maintained he was not travelling with the cavalcade at the time of the incident even as opposition parties attacked the state government over the incident which comes ahead of civic polls in UP. One of the cars in Cabinet minister Rajbhar’s cavalcade, while passing through the Colonelganj area yesterday, had allegedly knocked down Shiva Goswami, who died on way to hospital last night, the police said. Eyewitnesses and family members of the boy alleged that no one in the convoy stopped to help the child. His father Vishwanath alleged that the minister sped away in one of the cars that was decorated with garlands. Rajbhar, however, claimed that he was 25 km away, in another car, when the incident occurred. The boy was playing by the side of a road when he was hit reportedly by one of the cars in the cavalcade. His mother and grandmother were near the spot.
Following the incident, angry villagers placed the boy’s body on the road demanding action. Visuals of the boy’s father carrying the body were flashed repeatedly by TV channels. Stepping in, Adityanath directed the state police chief to submit a report and announced Rs 5 lakh compensation to the next of kin of the deceased. He also directed the state DGP to initiate strict action against those responsible for the incident. Meanwhile, opposition parties targeted the Adityanath government and Rajbhar over the incident. SP leader Juhi Singh raised questions as to why nobody had the decency to stop and take care of the injured boy. “We demand his (Rajbhar’s) resignation. Otherwise, the chief minister should take action,” she said. Senior BSP leader Sudhindra Bhadoria termed the incident as shameful. “It reminds us of the days of landlords and feudal leaders who cared two hoots for the poor,” he said.
Rajbhar, who heads the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, an ally of the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh, is the state divyangjan empowerment minister. He was in the news three weeks back when a video went viral on social media purportedly showing him warning that parents who fail to send their children to school would be locked up in police stations without food and water. In July, Rajbhar had threatened to sit on a dharna if a senior official in his home district was not removed. Recently, another UP minister, Jai Kumar Singh Jaiki, was in the news when a farmer in Jalaun district claimed that his crop was allegedly trampled by the convoy of the minister.
The farmer had alleged that last week nearly a dozen vehicles of the minister destroyed his crops in Orai. Jaiki, an MLA of BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) from Jahanabad assembly constituency in Fatehpur district, however, said there were no standing crop on the field, as the sown mustard seeds were yet to germinate, but still Rs 4,000 was paid to the farmer as damages.