Former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi could not have thought in his wildest dream that the luggage he was carrying with him in the chopper during an election campaign would be frisked.
Modi’s luggage was searched soon after his chopper landed at Motihari police lines in East Champaran around 11.30am on Tuesday. The security personnel deployed at the police lines were specifically told to search the luggage the leader was carrying with him. However, nothing incriminating evidence was found.
East Champaran district authorities claimed that the search was carried out on the instruction of the Election Commission. “We only adhered to the instructions of the commission and nothing else. This may happen with any leader of a political party, whose name didn’t figure in the list of the VIPs exempted from frisking,” a police officer told The Telegraph.
The search of the chopper started after 10 minutes Modi left for Gandhi Maidan, the venue where he was supposed to address a rally. The search team comprised an inspector and a magistrate besides other security personnel.
“The entire process has been videographed. Even the pilot’s luggage was searched. However, the leader’s personal belongings such as wallet and handbag were exempted from the search. The guests of the leader had to undergo the same process,” a police officer said, adding that the report is sent to the chief election officer the same day.
The officer, who didn’t wish to be named, said Lalu’s chopper was also searched when the latter had gone to East Champaran for election campaign on April 4. “It may be that other districts are not following the instructions of the commission strictly. But we are particular in implementation of the commission’s guidelines,” the officer said.
Additional state chief electoral officer R. Laxmanan said Tuesday’s exercise was part of the standing order issued by the Election Commission. “All the district returning officers have been directed to carry out searches of the choppers as well as vehicles to check use of money power in the elections,” Laxmanan said.
When asked about the search of the chopper, Modi said: “Let they (police) do their work. I am not perturbed by their acts.” East Champaran district magistrate-cum-district returning officer Shridhar C. said it was a routine security check.
“Search of the commercial choppers is done under the provisions of the EC’s standard operating procedure,” he added.