CHANDIGARH: The much-hailed decision of the Punjab Cabinet to ban red beacon lights on vehicles used by MLAs, ministers and officers has created a rather peculiar situation for MLAs, MPs, officers and other VIPs in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and even the Union Territory of Chandigarh who will now have to remove these symbols of VIP culture while entering Punjab.
Sources said some senior Haryana officers have informally approached powers-that-be in Punjab to prevail upon them to declare that ministers, MPs and MLAs as well as officers from the state are exempted from the red beacon ban order. "With the international airport falling in Mohali, it will be highly inconvenient for dignitaries from Haryana or Himachal Pradesh to stop at the Mohali border and start removing the red lights from vehicles. We are trying to explain the situation to our Punjab counterparts," said a senior officer from a neighbouring state.
Sources also said Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, an early proponent of this popular step, has dug in his heels and even declared that having a red beacon will not just be a violation but a crime. He said any unauthorised usage of red beacons by anyone will be seen as a crime. Sources in the Amarinder Singh government have made it clear that dignitaries from other states will have to remove the red lights on their vehicles when entering Punjab.
The issue has put officers and politicians in neighbouring states and the Union Territory of Chandigarh in a quandary as they cannot take a public stance on something that has caught the people's imagination. However, some UT officials said such egalitarian enthusiasm against pronounced symbols of VIP culture have a tendency to fade away fairly soon. "Come summer and you will see these Punjab politicians and officers in air-conditioned cars, sounding hooters and flashing red lights. It is just a question of time," said an officer who seemed particularly peeved with Punjab's move on red-beacon fitted vehicles.