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Cops pose as customers to catch illegal advertisers

A strategic move by stationmaster Sunil Kamathan has put theposter boys of illegal advertising at Pune railway station premises on the back foot. Joining hands with the Railway Protection Force (RPF), Kamathan devised a unique line of attack to snare these offenders, who otherwise cut and run after pasting posters on the walls late at night.


Clean and clear: During a visit to the station, MiD DAY found that the strategy has worked. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

Ever since the drive began a month ago, with sanction from Pune divisional railway manager Suneet Sharma, cops have filed twenty cases against these advertisers -- including educational institutes, private coaching classes, employers offering job opportunities, and relatives of missing persons.


Man with a plan: (Centre) Suneel Kamthan, stationmaster, Pune railway station. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

Stroke of genius
After realising that the brains behind these posters were no slouches, Kamathan recommended that cops pose as interested parties and call on the numbers specified in the commercials. Once the addresses of the advertisers, which usually don’t provide on the posters fearing action, are accessed, RPF can lodge cases against them.

“The offenders are then booked under relevant sections of Railways Act, and fine is charged based on the number of posters put up in station premises,” Kamathan said, adding, “The amount usually ranges between Rs 100 and Rs 500.”

“We have appealed to commuters to participate in the ongoing campaign, and have asked people to refrain from sticking posters on the walls,” said inspector DS Rajput from RPF. 

It works
Following the launch of this drive, railway officials have been on their toes, and have seven caught several offenders red-handed. When this reporter went to verify the claims of railway officials, and visited platforms one, two and three, he found no posters on the walls, benches, pillars or poles.

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