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Cong MP brandishes gun at toll plaza, booked for rioting

Last updated on: October 12, 2012 19:08 IST

Congress Member of Parliament Vitthal Radadia brandished a gun at operators of a Vadodara toll booth, who dared him to show his identity card to avoid paying toll tax, following which he was booked for rioting and threatening people.

Police filed a FIR on Friday against the Lok Sabha MP from Porbandar -- who was apparently unaware that his gun-toting act at night was getting captured on the CCTV camera installed at the toll booth -- under IPC sections relating to rioting and also under the Arms Act. Five more persons were also booked along with Radadia.

The bearded MP, dressed in white, was apparently enraged at the temerity of the toll plaza attendant, who asked for the original I-card after his driver had shown a photocopy. He menacingly held his double-barreled shotgun aloft while stalking the area in front of the booth and repeatedly tapping the glass enclosure with the barrel.

MPs are exempted from paying toll tax on highways across the country.

The incident happened near Karjan on National Highway 8 on the intervening night of October 10-11.

Congress said the images beamed across TV channels were "extremely disturbing" and shared the concern of those angry at the incident. Assembly polls are also due in Gujarat in December.

"Images which are being shown on TV are disturbing undoubtedly. There is no running away from it. We are a little circumspect and cautious before we pronounce judgment. The process of natural justice does entail us to give him a chance to explain. We have asked the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee to send us a detailed report. It is extremely disturbing," party spokesman Manish Tewari said.

The FIR was filed by the Vadodara rural police on the basis of the CCTV footage following a complaint by the manager of the private company collecting toll tax.

"We have received CCTV footage and have identified the car number. We will take action against those responsible," Deputy Superintendent of Police Usha Rada said.

In his complaint, the manager has said the driver and occupants of the car had threatened to kill him and other employees. He said one of the occupants took out a gun and created terror, saying they would not pay road toll tax as the car belonged to an MP.

Radadia, however, defended his action, saying he was surrounded by nearly 15 people carrying sticks after he told the plaza manager that as an MP, he was exempt from paying the toll.

"Fifteen people surrounded us, saying the identity card shown by my driver was bogus, that I am a bogus MP. As an MP I too have some prestige. I took out my licenced gun for my safety," Radadia said.

Asked why he took the law into his hands, an agitated Radadia shot back, "Who would have provided me security on the highway?"

Other commuters passing through the toll plaza were reportedly too afraid to step out of their cars.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Balbir Punj said the Congress needs to discipline MPs of the party.

Radadia, considered a strongman in the Saurashtra region, had recently helped the party organise a massive farmers' rally in Rajkot.

Incidentally, Porbandar is the birth place of the Father of the Nation and apostle of peace Mahatma Gandhi.

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