Known for gathering funds to build educational institutes for the poor by asking for vidya daan (education alms) on the city’s local trains, professor Sandeep Desai was in for a rude shock on Friday night when the railway protection force (RPF) arrested him on charges of begging and causing nuisance.
Desai, 53, was travelling on a local train when two policemen, who boarded the train at Andheri, quizzed him about his charity box. “The inspector said they needed to inquire if I am a fraud,” Desai told HT. Desai said he showed them newspaper articles on his work and provided them with documents of his trust.
The officials, however, took him to the station master’s office at Santacruz. “One more policeman was called there and a case was filed against me for begging, causing nuisance and not co-operating with them,” said Desai. “I paid the fine the court asked me to.”
“While Desai claims that he is collecting alms for charity, he should have taken permission from the railway administration. Otherwise, he is liable to be arrested under relevant sections of the Railways Act,” senior divisional security commissioner of Western Railway, Rajendra Rupnawar, told HT.
Rupnawar, however, said he would check the case details and order an inquiry if required. He said the police regularly took action against people found begging on trains.
Desai was booked under sections 144(B) (punishment for begging), 145 (causing nuisance) and 146 (obstructing a railway servant in his duties) of the Railways Act.