Tired of repeated setbacks in setting up a ticketing system to generate income, a young 23-year-old woman reportedly committed suicide near the premises of the Central Railway (CR) headquarters at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) yesterday. Anita Patel, a resident of Dombivli, had been running from pillar to post to obtain the necessary permission and internet connectivity so she could sell train tickets under the Jan Sadharan Ticket Booking Seva (JTBS) scheme.
Unable to deal with the successive blows that prevented her from setting up the JTBS outlet despite substantial expenditure, Anita she set herself on fire inside a toilet next to the main office of the Railway Police Force (RPF), opposite the Divisional Railway Manager’s (DRM) office around 12.35 pm.
Under the JTBS scheme, anyone can sell local train tickets after setting up a system connecting to the unreserved ticketing system (UTS). This also allows them to earn Re 1 more than the usual fare on every ticket sold. According to CR officials, the woman bought form for the JTBS in 2011, but submitted it only this year. According to sources, Anita met a few commercial managers and inspectors around 12 noon, just before pouring kerosene over herself and setting herself ablaze.
Anita submitted her application for the scheme in April this year, which was accepted in May. Soon after, she applied for a PORT internet connection in Dombivli (West), for which a fee of Rs 20,000 was charged. She got in touch with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) for the dedicated connection. She also purchased a computer with a keyboard, printer, ticketing equipment and other paraphernalia worth Rs 1.5 lakh. “However, there were technical problems in getting network connection from BSNL, and so she applied to us for a change of address in August,” said a senior CR official.
The application was accepted in a month, but there was more disappointment in store. Even the second location did not support the BSNL connection that was necessary to set up the JTBS system. In November, a tired and frustrated Anita applied for cancellation and refund. Speaking on the phone to MiD DAY, Anita’s father Kamlaprasad Ramnarayan Patel (50) said, “My daughter had been visiting the CST commercial department for nearly three days, but it was all in vain. One of the commercial inspectors had been harassing her.”
The Patels had even acquired space in Everest Shopping Centre in Dombivli to set up their ticket selling machines, paying a monthly rent of Rs 4,500 for the same. “We got the place, but we couldn’t get the BSNL line to operate the JTBS. Though we shifted, we failed to get proper connection,” said a distraught Kamlaprasad, adding, “In the last week of November, we decided to quit and take our refund. The bank guarantee of Rs 20,000 was forfeited as per the rules, but she had been running around to claim the remaining amount.”
Anita had assured her father that she would get the security deposit amount of Rs 5,000 back on Thursday. Only in August this year, the Railway Board made changes in rules, which said that the bank guarantee of Rs 20,000 would be forfeited. The rule was changed to prevent people from casually applying for the scheme without real intent. At present, there are 288 JTBS outlets across the suburban stations of CR. DCP (Zone-I) Ravindra Shisve said, “Anita Patel was here (CST) to claim her refund money after she cancelled the JTBS application. We found a bottle of kerosene and a bag inside the washroom.”