Minister of State (Mos) for Social Justice and Empowerment, Ramdas Athawale, was welcomed in Vadodara Sunday by streets awash with country-made liquor after a two-wheeler allegedly ferrying illicit alcohol collided with a stray bovine and dropped a bag full of liquor pouches at a junction on New VIP Road near the airport.
Although the minister’s convoy maneuvered its way around the spillage on the road, the Harni police arrested one person under the Prohibition Act stating the accused was trying to evade a police chase when he met with the accident.
The incident occurred at around 12:30 pm Sunday after Athawale landed in Vadodara and was on his way to the Vadodara circuit house. According to eyewitnesses, shortly before Athawale’s convoy was to pass by, a two-wheeler collided with a stray cattle and one of the plastic luggage bags loaded on the vehicle fell on the street, instantly turning the spot into a pool of alcohol. While the two-wheeler sped away from the spot, a woman, who was also riding a two-wheeler on the same path shortly thereafter, stopped and tried to draw the attention of the police vans escorting the convoy of the MoS. While most of the vehicles in the convoy evaded the pool of liquid and continued to zoom ahead, one PCR van at the end of the convoy stopped at the spot.
The woman told the reporters, “It is such a shame that bootleggers are ferrying liquor in broad daylight and that too, from one of the major roads that connect the city with the airport and have VIP traffic movement with high police vigilance. I tried to stop the convoy of the minister but they just went ahead without paying any heed. Finally, when the police stopped to check, they were shocked too… The stench from the alcohol is so strong… I asked them how did the bootleggers manage to operate so freely in this city which is part of a dry state?”
The constables from the police PCR that stopped by were seen clearing up the empty pouches from the street even as locals gathered at the spot. Later, the police arrested Suresh Thakor, alias Bailu, a resident of Kalyanpura village in Vadodara taluka under the Prohibition Act as well as for rash and negligent driving on the public way (IPC 279).
“The city police was working on input to intercept this bootlegger who was said to be ferrying liquor from Amit Nagar circle towards L&T circle. In order to escape the police, he sped ahead and met with the accident… The police, however, nabbed him shortly and has formally arrested him as well,” Vadodara Commissioner of Police Shamsher Singh told this newspaper.