An assistant vice-president of a financing firm and his friend were run over by the vehicle of an Indian Foreign Service official allegedly being driven by a car cleaner at Khel Gaon in South Delhi on Monday. The police have arrested the accused, who purportedly confessed to having taken out the vehicle for a joyride with his friends.
Sultan Singh (53), whose eldest daughter was to get engaged on Monday, and his old-time friend from Bangalore, Raghu Raja Raman (51), were taking a morning walk when the tragedy struck on August Kranti Marg around 6-30 a.m.
The person driving the car lost control over the wheel and the vehicle swerved to the left, climbed on to the footpath and drove some distance before hitting the two pedestrians from behind. The vehicle went on to hit a tree, its roof was badly damaged due to the impact, before coming to a halt. “This is the version of the incident given by the accused. We have no other means to cross-check it at this stage,” said a police officer, adding that the driver along with other occupants fled from the spot abandoning the car.
A passer-by called up the Police Control Room at 6-50 a.m. following which the two victims were rushed to a nearby hospital where they were declared dead. The steel-gray Swift Dzire car bearing an External Affairs Ministry and Delhi Traffic Police stickers was found registered in the name of Esha Srivastava. While efforts were under way to contact her, around 9 a.m. the police received a call from Kartik Pandey, an Under Secretary with the External Affairs Ministry, saying that his car had been stolen.
When Mr. Pandey, a resident of Asiad Village, shared his vehicle's registration number with the police, it turned out to be the one involved in the accident on August Kranti Marg. Mr. Pandey, husband of Ms. Srivastava, told the police that in the morning, he had handed over his car keys to a car cleaner named Manish. The car cleaner returned the keys to Mr. Pandey after a while, but the latter discovered that the vehicle was missing.
Suspecting the involvement of Manish (19), a resident of the nearby Shahpur Jat, the police picked him up for questioning. He broke down and allegedly confessed to having taken the vehicle out for a ride with his five friends, four of whom turned out to be juveniles, when the accident took place. “We have recorded statements of the occupants and fingerprints have also been lifted from inside the vehicle,” said the officer.
Based on the findings, the police registered a case of causing death due to rash and negligent driving and arrested Manish. Enquiries revealed that Sultan Singh, who lived with his wife and three daughters in Gautam Nagar, worked for a financing company in Saket. His eldest daughter was getting married on February 24 and her engagement ceremony was to be held in neighbouring Faridabad on Monday. His friend Raghu Raja Raman had come to attend the ceremony and the marriage. “His relatives have been informed about the incident,” the officer added.
Mr. Singh's relatives had earlier alleged that attempts were being made to hush up the matter.