When a ticket-checker apprehended a man traveling ticketless in the first class compartment of a Virar-bound Churchgate fast train on Saturday evening, he expected to extract a fine and let the man go, as he does with hundreds of errant commuters every day. The curious events that followed have now become the subject of court proceedings.
Identifying himself as Kailash Gupta (32), the ticketless traveler claimed he had a pass that allows him to travel for free all across the state. Gupta, who is a Nallasopara resident, belongs to the Adivasi community and brandished a yellow-coloured pass, which he claimed wielded authority that no one could challenge.
Confused by his claims, the TC hauled Gupta to the Mumbai Central Railway Protection Force (RPF), where officials present examined the pass.
The pass contained images and names of several kings of his community. Gupta named them 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.
Gupta was let off after paying Rs 1,000 as fine on Saturday and was presented at the railway court on Monday. Sources later confirmed that the magistrate and others present in the court were thoroughly confused after the Adivasi group made their presentation and showed all the documents they had brought.
“It calls for a high-level inquiry. This is a deep-rooted problem which needs to be addressed not only legally but socially as well,” said a railway official on condition of anonymity. A large section of this community resides in Malad (West).
“We belong to the family of kings, it is the time for us to prove to the rest of the country that Raja Ballu Bhai is more powerful than the government and the prime minister of the country. We aren’t scared of authority. The world isn’t aware of the original ruler and authority in the country,” alleged Gupta.
The court will take up the case yet again on September 6, where the final decision is likely to be made.
“The accused had been found traveling without a ticket in the local. The document he showed is not valid as per railway rules and regulations. I cannot comment further on it before the court comes to its conclusion,” said Sunil Singh, PRO, Western Railway.