A local leader of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has given himself up to police after allegedly running over and killing nine children in the northern state of Bihar.

Police said Manoj Baitha was driving the SUV involved in the deaths, but he denies this. The party has suspended him for six years.

Mr Baitha had been on the run since the incident on Saturday, police say.

At least 10 other children were injured when his SUV hit a crowd of students.

The students – who were aged between seven and 13 – were returning home from school when the incident took place. They were crossing a highway, as the village is located on one side and the school on the other.

Indian media reports said he had lost control of the vehicle after running down a 65-year-old woman near the school.

Officials began investigating the accused after a local resident, whose granddaughter was one of those killed, filed a complaint.

“We ran to the spot as soon as we found out about the accident,” Anwarul Haq told BBC Hindi’s Manish Shandilya, who travelled to the village soon after the incident.

One of Mr Haq’s daughters died in the accident while her sister escaped because she was on the other side of the road. “The children were strewn around. The impact of the attack was so strong that a few of them were even hanging on trees.”

Indradev Sahni’s nine-year-old daughter was killed in the incident while her younger brother was injured.

“Nothing is under control at home,” said Mr Sahni. “I couldn’t attend my daughter’s cremation. My father, brother and some neighbours organised her funeral. We had hoped that she would grow up to become an educated and bright woman.”

Mr Baitha is currently in hospital and is reportedly being treated for injuries related to the incident.

The opposition party in the state, which the BJP governs, has accused him of being intoxicated at the time.

Deputy chief minister, Sushil Kumar Modi, has told police to take the “sternest possible action” against him.

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