‘Propagandist’ newspaper distributed on Shatabdi train, IRCTC initiates probe

Photo for representational purpose. | Photo Credit: M.A. SRIRAM

A publication with right wing propaganda that was distributed to passengers on board the Bengaluru-Chennai Shatabdi Express has snowballed into a controversy, prompting the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to initiate an inquiry into the matter.

The IRCTC has admitted that the paper, ‘The Aryavarth Express’ was unauthorised. A passenger, Gopika Bashi, raised the issue in a Twitter post, questioning how the IRCTC had allowed it to be distributed in the first place. “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 allowing this???” she said in the tweet.

Responding to the tweet, the Divisional Railway Manager of Chennai asked counterparts in Bengaluru to investigate the matter. The DRM has also said that the  publication was not an authorised paper to be given to passengers, and tagged IRCTC on its official Twitter ID asking it to look into the matter and take necessary action to ensure that such incidents did not recur.

When contacted, a South Western Railway (SWR) official said: “We are enquiring in the matter. This was done without authorisation. IRCTC has been advised to ensure vendors do not insert anything in the newspaper.”

IRCTC, which has ordered an inquiry into the matter, said that action will be taken against those found responsible. “This paper is not among the IRCTC-approved publications,” said a spokesperson.

In a tweet later, it claimed that the newspaper in question 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.”

The tweet invoked a response from political party leaders. Member of Parliament Karti P. Chidambaram in his message questioned the Railway Ministry “How does this paper get to be on the list of subscribed publications?” he asked. 

Congress MP B. Manickam Tagore also questioned how such a newspaper found its way on board a train. ”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 Loksabha. #IndiaAgainstHate,” he tweeted.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2022 9:08:42 pm |