The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jairam gives chase after cabinet secy hit-and-run

New Delhi, Aug. 2: What would a bureaucrat whose escort car rams into a politician’s Maruti Esteem do' Simply race off without batting an eyelid because his boss is in a rush to welcome Mister Prime Minister home.

What would the esteemed politician who took the jolt from the blue do' Give the offending car hot chase, force stop it, haul up the driver, demand an apology from his boss — and perhaps, the repair charges — and get it.

Well, that was exactly what happened on Saturday night when cabinet secretary B.K. Chaturvedi was dashing to the Indira Gandhi International Airport to receive Bangkok-returned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

An Ambassador escorting his convoy hit Congress MP Jairam Ramesh’s Maruti Esteem near Claridges Hotel on Tughlaq Road and ran a good 3 km till Chanakyapuri police station where it was intercepted by a huffing and puffing Ramesh.

The economist-MP — fuming that the driver had the gall to race away after damaging his car — kicked up such a ruckus about the lack of courtesy that Chaturvedi was forced to step out of his red-beaconed car to defuse the sparks.

Chaturvedi is believed to have apologised to Ramesh, requested him not to make a noise about the mishap and even offered to pay the damages. He said the run-in had happened because he did not want to be late receiving Singh, who was returning after his first foreign trip as Prime Minister.

Ramesh today refused to talk at length about the incident. “It was a minor thing. He (Chaturvedi) has offered to pay for fixing the car,” he said.

Police sources said the offending driver was not an employee of Delhi police. Quite often, escort cars for senior bureaucrats — the cabinet secretary is given Z+ security — were hired from private taxi contractors, they said.

As the capital was chock-a-block with officials with various levels of security, there were hundreds of such cars and many were involved in accidents, they conceded.

Ramesh had, however, not made any complaint, a Delhi police officer said. “If he had made a complaint, a challan would be issued to the driver of the escort car as it would constitute an offence under the motor vehicles act,” the officer said.

“Usually drivers are briefed about safe driving and action can be taken against them in case of an offence. Even if the driver was from Delhi police, he (Ramesh) should make a complaint.”

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