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Rogue train chase brings Laloo to Bengal

Durgapur, Aug. 17: Laloo Prasad Yadav chased down a goods train from Bihar to Bengal and caught up with it at 1.30 am today to run a check on the freight.

The chase started after a tip-off that unrecorded goods had been loaded on Millennium Express.

The railway minister, riding a saloon car on a special train, intercepted the Express at Danapur only to find the station did not have an electronic weigh-bridge machine.

He let it go. But the pursuit was far from over. While railway officials awaited their boss at Asansol, Laloo Prasad turned up at Andal, off Durgapur and 200 km from Calcutta, an hour after the Express rolled in at 12.30 am.

Hum sab jaantey hain, humko kya bewakoof samajh rakkha hai (I know everything. Do they think I am a fool)'” Laloo Prasad told officials as he stepped out on platform No. 3 amid tight security.

The goods train, loaded in Delhi on Sunday and heading to Guwahati, was found carrying 17 tonnes of unrecorded freight — to evade railway duty.

Humko Delhi jaane dijiye, phir kis tarah ki antibiotic dena parega sochenge (Let me reach Delhi. Then I will decide how to punish those involved),” said the visibly angry minister who had a week ago made a surprise check on employees at Rail Bhavan.

On arrival, Laloo Prasad headed straight to the office on platform No. 6 that houses the electronic weigh-bridge machine. He told officials to bring in all 24 bogies, one by one, on to the weighing tracks.

Through the hour-and-a-half of weighing, Laloo Prasad stared hard at the digital counter in the office that flashed the weight of each coach as he sipped tea served in kulhars.

Senior officials like Eastern Railway general manager Shyam Kumar and divisional railway manager (Asansol) Raj Kumar were present.

At one point, he shouted at the officials to get the train to move slower for an accurate reading. It was found to have 505 tonnes of recorded cargo and 17 tonnes more in eight coaches.

“Overloading of goods trains often leads to accidents. Also, railway duty is evaded and the government loses out on revenue. Those involved will be severely punished,” the minister said. After ordering officials to impose fine on the unrecorded freight, Laloo Prasad left for Patna around 3.20 am. The goods train left at 3.30.

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