The police in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur on Saturday said the vehicle that killed nine schoolchildren in the district earlier in the day belonged to Bharatiya Janata Party leader Manoj Baitha. While the Rashtriya Janata Dal, too, alleged that a BJP leader’s car was involved in the accident, the BJP denied that Baitha was a party member, IANS reported.

In a photograph of the accident site, a BJP board can be seen on the vehicle, which crashed into the compound wall of a government school building in Muzaffarpur. Twenty-four children were injured in the tragic incident.

Registration papers found inside the car suggested that Baitha owned the vehicle, The Telegraph quoted Special Superintendent of Police Vivek Kumar as saying. Baitha is believed to be part of the BJP’s Dalit cell. But BJP Spokesperson Devesh Thakur dismissed the charges, saying, “We do not have any leader by that name associated with the party.”

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav told ANI that “the vehicle belongs to a BJP general secretary, the driver is absconding, and the administration has not been able to arrest him so far”. “Relatives of the deceased are saying that the vehicle has a BJP board attached to it and people in it were intoxicated,” he said.

The Opposition leader also accused Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi of attempting to shield the culprits. “Where did the driver get the liquor from when there is a ban on liquor in the state?” Yadav asked.