It’s true some board trains without tickets, but the Indian Railways has never encouraged free travel.
This week, railway authorities took that spirit one step further by ensuring that a goat set to travel with its owner did have a parcel ticket.
On Thursday, they caught the goat ticketless on the platform, waiting to board from Gaya in Bihar to Tatanagar in neighbouring Jharkhand. They first made the owner pay Rs 93 for the goat’s parcel ticket, and then slapped Rs 300 as penalty for it having defecated on the platform.
For Mohammad Rizwan, who runs a small hotel at Jugsalai in Tatanagar, it was his first brush with railway rules. He had travelled between the two destinations with ticketless four-legged companions earlier, but this time his luck ran dry.
The man had his son, too, with him.
Sandeep Kumar, area officer of the Gaya railway junction, said the authorities were following the law. “As per rules, the goat required a parcel ticket,” he told HT over phone. “Also, it dirtied platform number 3; hence the fine.”
Dayanand, senior deputy commercial manager, Mughalsarai railway division, said pets were allowed in passenger cabins only on AC1 coupe. “Otherwise, they need to be booked in the luggage van or the ‘dog box’ in the guard’s cabin,” he clarified. “Once the passenger bought the parcel ticket, the goat was allowed to be ferried in the luggage van.”
Rizwan had a valid ticket from Rafiganj in Gaya to Tatanagar, but had none for his goat. They were waiting to board the Jallianwala Express between Amritsar and Tatanagar when authorities caught him, he added.