Congress MP Vithal Radadiya brandished a gun at operators of a Vadodara toll booth who dared him to show his identity card to avoid toll tax following which he was booked for rioting and threatening people.
Police filed a FIR today 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 Radadiya.
The bearded MP, dressed in white, apparently enraged at the temerity of the toll plaza attendant, who asked for the original I-card after his driver had shown a photocopy, 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.
AICC Spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters in Delhi the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee has been asked to submit a report on the incident which was condemned by opposition BJP.
Radadiya is considered a 'strongman' in the Saurashtra region. The FIR was filed by 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 car number as GJ 3 445. 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.
Radadiya, however, defended his action, saying he was surrounded by about 15 people carrying sticks after he told the plaza manager that as an MP he was exempt from paying the toll.
"15 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," Radadiya said.
Asked why did he not inform the police instead of taking the law into his hands, an agitated Radadiya 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.