In a bizarre incident, five tourists were detained in Odisha after they overtook the convoy of Pratap Chandra Sarangi, the Minister of State (MoS) in the Union Government. The incident happened on NH16 and the pilot car of the convoy chased the tourists’ vehicles for a long distance.
Santosh Shaw, his wife, brother and two minor children were returning from Panchlingeswar in Balasore to Kolkata when the incident happened. Santosh says that he gave way to the convoy after hearing the siren and thinking that it must be an ambulance. However, after the convoy overtook them, Santosh realised that it must a minister’s convoy with a pilot car. After driving for some time, Santosh noticed that the minister’s car went off the road and that’s when they overtook the vehicle and kept on driving.
The pilot car chased Santosh’s vehicle for over 20 km till Lakhanath toll gate in Jaleswar. It is the border area neighbouring West Bengal. The pilot car bought them to the Basta Police station and detained all the occupants in the vehicle for five hours.
Ashok Nayak, IIC Basta police station told India Today,
“After the two vehicles overtook his car, the minister asked the pilot vehicle to catch them and bring back. The pilot car brought the two vehicles to Basta Police station and they were booked under Motor Vehicle Act and were released on PR. They also gave an undertaking that they won’t repeat this offence,
Shaw said that they should not have gone near the minister’s vehicle and it was their fault. All the occupants of the vehicle were detained and were let go only after they wrote an apology and signed an undertaking stating that they will not repeat it again. India Today also says that they tried contacting the PRO of the minister but he did not answer any calls.
Minister convoy in India
In India, most ministers travel in a convoy that allows them to travel quicker and safer. In most cases, the speed of these convoys are faster than the traffic and there is little chance for the others to overtake the convoy. However, if a vehicle comes near any convoy of a VIP, the security cars wave them to slow down and not come near the convoy. No such thing happened at the Odisha incident. Also, Shaw mentions that the car of the minister had a siren. It should be noted that the sirens and flashers atop the minister vehicles have been banned in India by the central government. Not even the prime minister’s car can have a flasher or a siren on them. So we are not sure why the MoS of Odisha is allowed the have the same.
The police say that they have booked Shaw under the Motor Vehicle’s Act but they did not give any sections under which they filed the charges against the family. In India, VIPs and minister convoys still disrupt the traffic movement and even causes delays to emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks.