At least three security personnel escorting the convoy of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee were seriously injured when a pilot car skidded off the road and fell down in the Darjeeling Hills in Sonada area in Kurseong sub-division on Friday morning. 

 

The incident occurred around 10:40 am when both Pranab Mukherjee and Mamata Banerjee were returning from Raj Bhavan in Darjeeling to Bagdogra Airport and were on their way to Delhi.The chief minister of West Bengal had conducted the entire rescue operations and she left the accident spot only after all the security personnel injured in the accident had been rescued.  

 

Pranab  Mukherjee came to Darjeeling on Monday for a three day visit. During his stay the government of West Bengal arranged a state reception for the President. Mamata Banerjee was going to Delhi with the President to attend the inter- state council meeting to be held on July 16 convened by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  

 

Eyewitness said that the visibility of the area was extremely poor and it was raining.  The second pilot car in the convoy which was following the President’s car suddenly fell forty feet below in the slope,  when the driver lost control of the vehicle. Mamata Banerjee had noticed the incident and she immediately stopped her convoy and started the rescue operation. 

 

As a protocol the convoy of the chief minister does not stop under any circumstance. However,  owing to the exceptional circumstance the chief minister ordered  the halt.  She also informed the President about the entire incident and the convoy of Pranab Mukherjee also halted in Kurseong area. Mamata Baneejee conveyed to the President over mobile phone that out of the six security personnel travelling in the ill fated car, three of them were seriously injured and were sent to Kurseong Hospital in an ambulance which was part of the convoy.

 

Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee, a Congress MP and his daughter who were in the convoy with the chief minister alighted from the vehicle and started helping the police to rescue the injured. The chief minister through a public address system asked the police personnel and Rapid Action Force to conduct the rescue operation. She told media personnel that the car was stuck in a tree on the slope after the fall. 

 

A heavy duty rope was tied with the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway line and the same was thrown down to the  security personnel in the car who were caught in the branches of trees. The chief minister reassured the victims and she remained in the spot of the incident till each and every one of them had been rescued. 

 

The rescued security personnel were thereafter sent to the hospital.  The chief minister said that the state government would give reward to the police personnel for rescuing the injured persons. The entire operation was completed in half an hour. Later the chief minister and the President of India resumed their journey to Bagdogra.

 

In 2007 when Pranab Mukherjee was the external affairs minister, he was injured in a road accident in Nadia district in west Bengal when his car collided with a truck.