Goa vacationers get style of ballot code: held for hours, money seized

HUBBALLI: Some 17 Goa-bound tourists, including 11 foreigners, had a harrowing experience after they were caught for carrying cash more than what‘s prescribed during times.
One top executive from a Delhi company was found carrying Rs 97,000 in cash, nearly double the ceiling of Rs 50,000 allowed per person as per the election model code of conduct.

The incident took place on Saturday, and came to light when the victims approached a Hubballi court on Monday, seeking release of their car and cash.

The incident comes close on the heels of an agriculturist from district was put behind bars for keeping a stock of liquor in excess of what‘s permitted by the model code of conduct. The arrested person wasn‘t aware that he had to obtain a certain class of excise licence to store liquor bottles at his residence.

Sonal Pahwa, director of a Delhi-based medical tourism company, was taking 17 tourists, including 11 from Oman, Iran, Iraq and , to Goa in cars. The squad stopped the cars near , near here.

The Delhi director told TOI: “We were travelling from Bengaluru to Goa in four cars. One car broke down, and three persons from that vehicle were sent to Goa by bus. The rest of us were travelling in three cars when a flying squad led by a magistrate stopped us at a checkpost, near Hubballi, around 10am on Saturday.”

The Delhi director said: “They found Rs 97,000 in cash in my car. We tried to convince the magistrate till 3pm that we were tourists and carrying cash to spend on watersports and casinos at Goa. We also told him that one person was carrying Rs 97,000 for the entire team of 17 tourists.”

Pahwa said he wasn‘t aware that citizens weren‘t allowed to carry more than Rs 50,000 during elections without documents. “During the five hours spent arguing with the squad, foreign tourists were threatened with seizure of passports. We were taken to the Hubballi Rural police station around 3.30pm. Three hours later, we were informed that an FIR had been lodged against my friend who was driving the car. We left the place by midnight after my friend secured bail,” he said.

A woman tourist, in a letter to the superintendent of police, alleged that some police personnel were “staring at” her when she was waiting at the Hubballi Rural station.

Deputy commissioner SB Bommanahalli promised to look into their complaints.

Hegde said that the tourists were not harassed. “The police seized their car. They might have felt this as harassment. The money was seized as no document was produced. There was no fault on our part,” the official added.

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