Hours after exposing a ticket black-marketing scam within the Mumbai Central premises, this MiD DAY correspondent was at the receiving end of a scathing personal attack from the Western Railways’ Chief Public Relations officer (CPRO) Sharat Chandrayan, who rang her up to denounce her story
as ‘baseless’ and questioned her intellect.
Ironically, his denial came almost at the same time as comments from Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials, who confirmed the existence of the scam, and said that the touts identified in the MiD DAY sting operation are repeat offenders who have been arrested many times for extorting passengers desperate for tickets on trains like Rajdhani Express and August Kranti Rajdhani Express.
Reacting to the MiD DAY exposé, the CPRO called up this MiD DAY correspondent last afternoon and let loose an angry tirade against the correspondent, saying that her story was baseless and false. When she patiently explained that she had merely reported facts that she had experienced personally, Chandrayan cut her short and resorted to a personal attack, saying “‘Tumhare mental level itna neeche gir gaya hai’ (your mental level has dropped so low!)”.
Outraged, the correspondent objected to the statement and requested the official not to use such language. She disconnected the line thereafter. Around 8 pm, the CPRO called again to apologise for his remarks, saying he had not intended to offend her.
Meanwhile, the agents have made themselves scarce from Mumbai Central station, ever since a report was published on MiD DAY’s cover page yesterday about them doing brisk business extorting travelers for tickets on the high-profile trains (‘Pay double, get Rajdhani ticket 2 hours before train departs’, October 29).
The Railway Protection Force officials revealed that they have for long been making arrests and lodging cases on such agents. The three agents captured on camera during the sting are said to be regular offenders. Mohammad Akbar Javed (22) was released on October 19 after a three-month-long stint in prison, and bounced back into the black marketing circuit soon after his release.
The second agent, identified as Imran Saar Khan, has four cheating cases lodged against him. He was booked in three cases in 2012, and one this year. He has been booked for creating a nuisance in the booking office area by the RPF. The third agent, identified as Jeet Singh alias George, has been arrested over 29 times since 2008 in similar cases of touting.
MiD DAY tried to contact Pramod Kumar, who holds additional charge of WR, but his phone was switched off. Shailendra Kumar, divisional railway manager, WR, said, “I can’t comment on this issue as I have no idea about the conversation between CPRO and you.”
Rajendra Rupnawar, senior divisional security commissioner, WR, RPF, said, “They are regular offenders and we have an eye on them. We will try to make sure that they get maximum punishment, as they are repeat offenders. They are absconding now, but our search is on. We will catch them soon.” Interestingly, these offenders have often been let off on payment of fines.