| Accident: Real or fake'
Patna, Feb. 22: Gone are the days when drivers of overloaded trucks used to take a detour to avoid the prying eyes of men in khaki. It’s virtually the other way round these days.
Sample this: District transport officer Ram Dayal Singh died on the spot in 2005 as a truck rammed into his jeep on GT Road near Aurangabad while he was trying to intercept an overloaded vehicle. Before the officer could overtake the errant truck, another lorry hit his jeep from the rear.
The incident passed off as just another road accident. But the transport ministry admitted it was certainly not an accident but an “organised ploy” of truckers to discourage checking of vehicles.
Bihar transport minister Ajit Kumar told The Telegraph: “Over a dozen officials — right from deputy superintendents of police to sub-inspectors — have sustained serious injuries at the hands of road mafiosi while checking vehicles at Gopalganj, Aurangabad, Chhapra and all along GT Road in the past one year.”
Mithilesh Singh, a deputy superintendent of police (enforcement), fell into a 25-feet-drain after his jeep was hit by a truck at Gopalganj last month.
The transport minister learnt to his utter dismay that in most cases overloaded trucks are mostly led by a “pilot jeep” that finds out if there is any checking.
The jeep driver talks to truck drivers on mobile phones to update them on checking.
If a truck driver fears impounding and heavy fine, lorries lined up behind his vehicle “cause” a traffic snarl in an attempt to divert the attention of the police.
Kumar said the transport enforcement wing, which has only 32 officials, “will start a drive along GT Road to tame the road mafia”.
The minister pointed out that he had written to chief minister Nitish Kumar to provide him with 20 more enforcement officers and 100 constables for the squad.
Kumar said the enforcement wing collects Rs 8-9 crore only by impounding vehicles every year.
“We have slowly zeroed in on those we believe are involved in the sand mafia. We have also written to the mining department to help identify the errant truckers,” the minister said.