IRCTC orders probe on distribution of 'propagandist' daily on train
A “propagandist” newspaper with provocative headlines against the minority community was distributed on board the Bangalore-Chennai Shatabdi Express on Friday, drawing political criticism and prompting the IRCTC to initiate an inquiry.
The IRCTC has acknowledged that the paper — The Aryavarth Express — was “unauthorised”.
The matter was raised by passenger Gopika Bakshi, a gender justice campaigner, on Twitter on Friday. He uploaded a picture of the front page of the newspaper that he claimed to have received in the train. The main headline read: “Genocide of Hindus, Buddhists & Sikhs under Islamic Rule needs to be recognized.” Another headline said: “UN should label Aurangzeb as perpetrator of Holocaust like Hitler.”
Bakshi tweeted on Friday: “This morning I boarded the Bangalore-Chennai Shatabdi Express only to be greeted by this blatantly propagandist publication on every other seat — The Aryavarth Express. Had never even heard of it. How is @IRCTCofficial allowing this?”
This morning I boarded the Bangalore-Chennai Shatabdi Express only to be greeted by this blatantly propagandist publication on every other seat- The Aryavarth Express. Had never even heard of it. How is @IRCTCofficial allowing this??? pic.twitter.com/vJq7areg8u— Gopika Bashi (@gopikabashi) April 22, 2022
Congress MP B. Manickam Tagore also questioned how such a newspaper found its way into a train’s services.
“Will Hon’ble Rail minister order an inquiry into it? Whether it’s the proved policy of the @RailMinIndia to allow propaganda material in the Shatabdi Express? Will write and raise the issue in Lok Sabha. #IndiaAgainstHate,” he tweeted.
Will Hon’ble Rail minister @AshwiniVaishnaw order an inquiry into it ? Whether it’s the proved policy of the @RailMinIndia to allow propaganda material in the Shatabdi express? Will write and raise the issue in Loksabha.#IndiaAgainstHate https://t.co/z1DqPqtIlH— Manickam Tagore .Bமாணிக்கம் தாகூர்.ப (@manickamtagore) April 22, 2022
Another Congress MP, Karti Chidambaram, asked how such a newspaper got into the list of publications the IRCTC subscribed to.
Sources said the IRCTC, the ticketing and catering arm of the railways, had approved the Deccan Herald and one other local paper as the two publications to be distributed on board trains in the region. These newspapers are distributed on board by IRCTC licensees.
“We have ordered an inquiry into this and action will be taken against those found responsible. This paper is not among the IRCTC-approved publications,” IRCTC spokesperson Anand Jha said.
The divisional railway manager, Chennai, said an inquiry was being conducted by the DRM Bangalore.
“The latest update is that the DRM Bangalore is investigating how an unauthorised newspaper found its way into the train. We like to inform everyone that the train belongs to the Bengaluru division and the incident happened there. We are sure they would take appropriate action,” he said in a tweet.
In a tweet later, the IRCTC said The Aryavarth Express was found inside the regular, approved newspapers as an insert.
“The newspaper vendor has been strictly advised to avoid any such inserts in future. Onboard monitoring staff will keep a strict vigil of the same. The licensee of the train has also been counselled,” it said.
In a reply to the IRCTC tweet, Bakshi countered the claim made by the rail subsidiary, saying: “It was not an insert — it was on my seat when I boarded. Deccan Herald was on the next seat.”