The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Do job, get VIP stick

Calcutta, May 5: A railway magistrate who boarded the driver’s cabin to avoid the crush of passengers ordered the detention of the motorman and the guard for allegedly misbehaving with him and for proceeding at slow speed.

The move set off a chain of events that stalled services and triggered chaos as passengers, fuming at the delay, ransacked the Sealdah senior station manager’s office, leading to a police baton charge.

The trouble started when Mintu Mallick, the railway magistrate of Sealdah court, tried to board the driver’s cabin of the train from Budge Budge at Lake Gardens this morning. An Eastern Railway official said Mallick lost his temper when the driver asked him for his credentials. “When he identified himself, the driver let him in. But throughout the journey, he argued with the driver and also sought an explanation for running the train slowly.”

After the train reached Sealdah at 10.42 am, 12 minutes late, Mallick ordered railway police to bring the driver, Dipak Sarkar, and the guard, Manoj Kumar Mandal, to his court. “He then asked them to tender a written apology for their conduct and released them,” said Sealdah railway police chief B.K. Mullick.

As news spread that two of their colleagues had been detained on “flimsy charges”, train drivers and guards of Sealdah division stopped services for around five hours. A group of employees stormed the courtroom in the Sealdah main station while the magistrate was hearing a case.

Railway officials said no one can enter the driver’s cabin without a valid pass. “The driver was well within his rights to question his credentials,” said A.K. Malhotra, chief personnel officer, Eastern Railway.

Malhotra said an inquiry will be held. Mallick refused to comment.

Train services resumed at 4.05 pm, but not before 49 pairs of local trains had been cancelled, officials said.

“We have been waiting here for three hours,” said Prafulla Chowdhury who had come from Bongaon.

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