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NEW DELHI, 19 April 2017:
The Indian government has banned all its ministers and other top officials from using red beacons on their cars, in an effort to shun “VVIP culture” that causes inconvenience to the public.
Highly placed sources said the decision was made at a cabinet meeting chaired by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday and the ban will come into effect from May 1.
Though only five people in India will be allowed to use red beacon atop vehicles – namely the president, prime minister, vice president, chief justice and the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) speaker – Modi has given up the “status symbol”, sources said.
Days ago, Modi went to the Delhi airport to receive Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina “in normal traffic” – which means no traffic restrictions were in place throughout the route.
Recently, governments of two states – Punjab and Uttar Pradesh in the north – apparently enforced almost a similar ban on use of red beacons atop vehicles of ministers and other top officials, which is often seen as a display of arrogance.
The Punjab government, run by the country’s main opposition Congress Party, also announced that using red beacon in the state will be criminal offense.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s government in Uttar Pradesh warned that no minister in the state will be allowed to use the red beacons atop vehicles.
India’s supreme court had described putting up of beacon lights and blowing of sirens as a “status symbol” – adding that besides constitutional functionaries, it was the “ambulances, fire services, police and army who are in need for red lights. Rest can be excluded”.