Monalisa Chaudhuri, TT, April 20: Cars illegally fitted with beacons not only enjoy privileges on the road but also get away with offences through intimidation, traffic department sources said.
"Whenever we see a beacon-fitted vehicle, we assume the person inside is a VIP. Who will take the risk of stopping the car even if it violates a traffic rule?" an officer of a city traffic guard said.
Among those who dare to stop such a vehicle, some are scoffed at for their "audacity" and others are forced to let go of the car on "orders from superiors".
"A batchmate had stopped a car fitted with a red beacon and a flasher in Park Circus a couple of years ago. An officer of the rank of secretary was inside. He was not entitled to a red beacon with a flasher. Within five minutes, my batchmate started getting calls from Lalbazar and Nabanna. He had to let the vehicle go," said an officer who heads a traffic guard in the city.
Several officers Metro spoke to said they preferred to look the other way if a beacon-fitted car violated a road rule.
"A former minister, now an MP, uses a red beacon with a flasher every day. That's illegal but why should I invite humiliation by stopping the car?" asked a sergeant.
The number of prosecution in the city for illegal use of beacon is extremely low. An officer of the assistant commissioner rank recounted one such rare occasion - "successful prosecution" of two vehicles illegally fitted with beacons in Alipore a couple of years ago.
"Thankfully, there was no VIP in the cars. So there were no calls ordering us to release the cars," the officer said.
In the absence of any relevant section in the motor vehicles act, beacon misuse is prosecuted under sections related to cheating for personation.
A man named Dhiraj Sarkar who was arrested in connection with a brawl at a Salt Lake bar on Holi was found to be using a beacon-fitted car. He said the car belonged to an MLA. In 2012, officers of Hare Street police station had prosecuted the car of the then Barrackpore commissioner for using a beacon with a flasher. An officer of the rank of commissioner is entitled to a beacon without flasher.