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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 July 2024
Police add stringent section after BJP shield cry

Friend first witness of Delhi car-drag incident

The police slapped 5 men arrested with a stringent charge, entailing a maximum punishment of a life term, after being accused of shielding the suspects as one of them was a ward-level BJP official

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui New Delhi Published 04.01.23, 03:43 AM
They said the friend had blamed the car’s driver for the accident, saying he was “driving in a rash and zigzag manner”.

They said the friend had blamed the car’s driver for the accident, saying he was “driving in a rash and zigzag manner”. Representational picture

The 20-year-old woman scooterist killed after being hit by a car and dragged across Delhi’s streets in the early hours of Sunday had a female pillion rider who suffered minor injuries and fled the scene in fear, police said on Tuesday.

The police also slapped the five men arrested with a stringent charge, entailing a maximum punishment of a life term, after being accused of shielding the suspects because one of them, Manoj Mittal, 27, was a ward-level BJP official.

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Officers said CCTV footage showed the victim had initially been on the pillion with her friend in the driver’s seat, but they changed places before the accident. They said the friend had blamed the car’s driver for the accident, saying he was “driving in a rash and zigzag manner”.

They added that the suspects had said they were drunk and were playing loud music, and were unaware that a body was stuck under the car. Officers said the sight of the victim being caught in the car’s undercarriage and dragged had left the friend too shaken to call the police. The friend’s name and occupation have not been revealed.

“We have traced the friend and her statement has been recorded. This will help the investigation,” special commissioner (law and order) Sagar Preet Hooda said.

Late on Monday night, the police had added the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the five accused.

The earlier charges of rash driving and causing death by negligence were punishable by up to a two-year term.

Police sources continued to deny the allegation by the victim’s family that the woman was raped and the “accident” staged, but officially said they were waiting for the post-mortem report. Officers said a preliminary medical examination, CCTV footage and the friend’s account did not indicate sexual assault.

CCTV footage

The police said CCTV footage showed the victim, who worked for an event management company and was her family’s sole breadwinner, leave a hotel around 1.45am after a New Year party. She was in pink clothes and was apparently headed home.

According to the footage, the friend, who wore red clothes, drove the scooter while the victim sat on the pillion. Later footage showed them to have changed places.

Police sources said the friend had said in her statement that after the car hit the scooter, she was flung off while the victim went under the car’s wheels.

“She told us the victim’s leg got stuck in the car’s axle and she was dragged along. She has blamed the car’s driver for the accident, saying he was driving in a rash and zigzag manner,” an officer at Sultanpuri police station said.

CCTV footage from multiple places on the route show the car driving for over an hour with the body stuck under it. A video circulating on social media shows the car making a U-turn with the body caught in the undercarriage.

An eyewitness has claimed the car had driven round and round, passing him multiple times. The police said the accident happened at 2.45am at Sultanpuri and the body was found two hours later at Kanjhawala, about 4-5km away.

Deepak Khanna, the driver, has apparently told the police he had felt that something was stuck to the undercarriage but the others had dismissed the idea. Once the car slowed down, the body came off and the accused fled the scene, the police said.

Apart from Mittal — whom a BJP hoarding in Sultanpuri introduces as “sah sanyojak” (deputy organiser) for ward 42 – the accused have been identified as Deepak, 26, Krishan, 27, Amit Khanna, 25, and Mithun, 26.

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