About two weeks back, railway officials had been befuddled by the claims made by a ticketless traveller, who claimed that he possessed a pass authorised by an adivasi king to travel in suburban and long distance trains for free. Yesterday, the Railway Court solved the mystery within minutes, asking the man – Nallasopara resident Kailash Gupta to pay a fine of Rs 500 as penalty for ticketless travelling. His was asked to either pay up or face imprisonment.
The pass that Kailash Gupta had produced, which he claimed gave him the right to travel free of cost in suburban and long distance trains
Gupta, who had earlier claimed boldly that he had every right to travel free, meekly paid the fine amount and left. The Railway Court in Mumbai Central made it clear that Gupta was carrying documents which are not valid as per the railway rules, as a result of which he had to pay fine, or face arrest under section 420 of the IPC. The hearing began at 2 pm, with the judge asking one of Gupta’s fellow adivasis to explain their side of the story. In ten minutes, the judge passed the verdict that Gupta didn’t possess a valid pass to travel.
On August 24, Gupta was caught by ticket checker Manoj Tiwari inside the first class compartment of a Virar-bound fast train without a ticket. He refused to pay the fine, claiming to have a valid pass, which allowed him to travel freely all over the country. The pass contained images and names of kings such as late Kunwar Keshri Singh and 95-year-old Ballu Bhai, who is believed to be the present-day king of the country by the Adivasi group. MiD DAY had reported on the fracas (‘Ticketless traveller’s ‘adivasi’ pass bewilders RPF, magistrate,’ August 28).
At the hearing yesterday, Gupta’s lawyer P Thakur and a group of 15-20 people from the community accompanied him. One of the group members said, “We will continue to travel freely throughout the city irrespective of whatever happens.” Asked why their Raja wasn’t present for the hearing, he replied, “Ballu Bhai is the Raja. He doesn’t need to be present for such a small thing. He will only appear before the Prime Minister or President of the country.”