A 42-year-old Worli woman driving under the influence of alcohol had the Mumbai Traffic Police on its toes for an hour in the early hours of Tuesday. She led the police on a nearly 1-kilometre chase in Bandra West, before locking herself inside her car, smoking one cigarette after the other and listening to music on her car stereo after having tested positive for alcohol consumption. For the one hour that the woman was inside the car, she allegedly paid no heed to the police’s pleas to step out, forcing them to smash the car’s rear windshield and extract her.
The Mumbai Traffic Police have placed policewomen at each of drink driving bandobasts in the city every day since June 12, after lawyer Janhavi Gadkar rammed her Audi Q3 into a taxi on the Eastern Freeway, allegedly in an inebriated state, and killed two persons last week.
The drama began at 12.55 am Tuesday when policemen and women posted at the Bandra traffic division were about to wrap up their drink driving bandobast near Lilavati Hospital. Shivani Bali, driving a red Hyundai i10, was asked to stop and step out when the policewoman on duty suspected that she had consumed alcohol.
“She started abusing us and demanded to know why she had been stopped. She said she would get us suspended if we did not let her go,” said Sub-Inspector Dattatray Choughle of the Bandra traffic division.
Choughule said Bali finally agreed to undergo a breathalyser test but said she would first park her car to the side. “Instead, she reversed and narrowly avoided hitting a car coming from behind. Two of us on motorbikes followed her. A couple of autorickshaw drivers joined us. Outside the Bandra Reclamation Bus Depot, they parked their autos in the middle of the road and blocked Bali’s path,” Choughule said. By then, officers from the Bandra police station had also arrived for backup”
“Bali came out of the car and before she could say anything, we administered the breathalyser test. The test was positive and read 81 mg per 100 ml of blood. We asked her name and address and were in the middle of the paperwork when Bali walked back to her car and shut herself inside,” Choughule said.
This time, he added, Bali turned on her car stereo and air-conditioner and began to smoke cigarettes. “She finished one entire pack. We were scared that she might die of smoke inhalation,” said Choughule.
Bali allegedly refused to open the door. “We tried to tell her that she would not be arrested but only taken to a police station and fined. But it seems she was frightened both because she was alone and also under the influence (of liquor),” said Senior Inspector P S Chavan.
After futile one-way negotiations for nearly an hour, new fears arose of the car’s engine overheating. “It could have burst. A few TV journalists had come there and trained their cameras on Bali’s window. That probably scared her more,” Chavan said.
Finally, the police smashed the rear windshield, opened the rear door and then opened the door on the driver’s side. “Once she was out, she began to abuse us again. But the policewomen managed to take her to the Bandra police station. There, we seized her car and licence. She was asked to pay Rs 2,000 as a deposit for the car and Rs 1,200 for indecent behaviour under the Bombay Police Act. By the time she was allowed to go, it was past 3.15 am,” Choughule said.
Bali was also fined Rs 1,200 for misbehaving with the police. She was expected to remain present before the Bandra motor vehicle court Tuesday as a case was registered against her. “She did not attend the court so a warrant will be issued against her… She will have to come to court to collect her licence,” said a court official who did not wish to be named.