Four persons, including an eight-year-old boy, died on Wednesday morning after the SUV they were travelling in fell into a rivulet on National Highway 110 passing through Jehanabad district.
The mishap occurred around 6am when the driver of the SUV lost control of the vehicle while negotiating a diversion on the road inundated with rainwater.
The vehicle fell into the stream near Jehangirpur village under the jurisdiction of Parasbigha police station in Jehanabad district, around 65km south of Patna. Six persons, including the driver, were in the SUV at the time of the accident.
Residents of the village — situated on the Arwal-Biharsharif road — said they fished out four bodies from the stream after police failed to reach the spot in time.
The deceased have been identified as Ramadhar Sharma (50), his wife Malti (45), their grandson Roshan (8), and a neighbour, Neelam Devi (42). The victims were on their way to Jehanabad from Telpa village in the neighbouring Arwal district.
Sharma’s son Nirbhay (30) was also in the SUV at the time of the accident.
Jehanabad superintendent of police (SP) D. Sayali said Nirbhay was safe. “Nirbhay Sharma is safe and has reached his destination,” she told The Telegraph on phone from Jehanabad.
She quoted Nirbhay as telling the police over phone that the family was going to Jehanabad to seek medical advice for Roshan who was ailing. “My son was sick for the past several days. As his condition was deteriorating, a local doctor referred him to Jehanabad for better treatment,” the SP quoted Nirbhay as saying.
The SP said: “The vehicle in which the victims were travelling in has been seized. A complaint has been lodged against the driver for negligence. Efforts are on to arrest the driver who is absconding after the accident.”
Contradicting the police’s version, residents of Jehangirpur village said Nirbhay and the SUV’s driver have gone missing.
The residents accused the police of being callous. “The police, led by Parasbigha station house officer (SHO) Samrat Singh, arrived on the spot more than five hours after getting information about the tragedy,” a resident said.
The Jehanabad SP refuted the allegations against the station house officer though. “Since an alert was sounded across the district for the festive season, he (SHO Singh) might have been busy somewhere and was delayed in reaching the accident spot,” she said.
Parasbigha SHO Samrat Singh said: “The vehicle was caught in a flash flood in the Baldeyia river. The water level suddenly increased and the vehicle was washed away. Traffic has been restricted on the national highway as it is under knee-deep water.”