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 Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 13:28 GMT
'Drunks' breach Indian PM security
Indian police are holding two men in connection with an embarrassing breach of the prime minister's security.

The pair overtook Atal Behari Vajpayee's motorcade in their car in Delhi late on Tuesday, even though all traffic on the road had been stopped.

Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee surrounded by heavy security
Mr Vajpayee is closely guarded
Security personnel opened fire on the vehicle and police gave chase, eventually arresting its occupants who were unharmed.

Officers say the men were drunk.

They have charged them with dangerous driving and interfering with the work of government officials.

Police stress that Mr Vajpayee was never in any danger and have ruled out any terrorist link.

Security loopholes

But the incident is the second time in 10 days that security for Mr Vajpayee has been shown to be lax.

It was just a case of impatient persons wanting to move out fast

Police commissioner RS Gupta
Last week, a car hit one of the vehicles in his motorcade before escaping in dense fog. No one was injured.

And a Lufthansa plane apparently violated a no-fly zone over the prime minister's residence in Delhi two months ago.

India has very stringent security measures for its prime ministers, two of whom - Indira Gandhi and her son, Rajiv - have been assassinated since independence in 1947.

All roads are shut and pedestrians ordered off the streets at least 10 minutes before Mr Vajpayee's fleet of white Ambassador cars passes through any Indian city.

'Not militants'

Mr Vajpayee, 78, was travelling from the airport to his residence when the men passed his motorcade in a white car.

Security officials opened fire on the vehicle which sped off, a police officer told the BBC.

The car was later found in Gurgaon, a town in Haryana state which neighbours Delhi. Documents in the vehicle led police to the driver and his companion.

A woman who was travelling with them was also detained but freed after questioning.

Top security officials have been meeting to discuss how to prevent similar incidents from taking place in the future.

A senior police officer told journalists the men had no links with any militant group.

"It was just a case of impatient persons wanting to move out fast," Delhi police commissioner RS Gupta told reporters.

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