One version says they were caught travelling without tickets. Another has it that it was all a misunderstanding. Whatever the case, Tuesday was a day Railway Minister Lalu Prasad would like to forget.
At Chapra station, his parents-in-law were allegedly caught travelling without tickets on the Darbhanga-New Delhi Sampark Kranti Express. The train ticket examiner (TTE) responsible was said to have then issued them tickets to legalise the journey.
The septuagenarian couple — Shiv Prasad Choudhary and Maharajo Devi, parents of former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi — had boarded the train at Hajipur for Siwan.
Umashankar Prasad, the Chapra station superintendent, declined to comment on whether Lalu's in-laws were travelling without tickets.
Officials of the North-Eastern Railway denied the couple were travelling without tickets. "It's a misinformation campaign launched by some vested interests," said Manoj Kumar Singh, chief public relations officer, North East Railway.
"There is some confusion somewhere. Lalu's in-laws had second-class tickets, which they wanted to convert into AC first-class tickets at the station. Since it could not be done before the train left, they could do nothing but pay the difference after requesting the TTE. They paid Rs 1,092 before they got off."
RJD national spokesman Shyam Razak said the couple, who had been undergoing treatment in Patna, were returning with some villagers. While the tickets were being bought, the train started to leave the station and they could not collect their revised tickets.
In Chapra, Shiv Prasad said, "We could not purchase tickets due to the lack of time. The train arrived as soon as we reached the station. We were made to board it by the people who came to see us off."
In Patna, Rabri said her parents were travelling with valid rail tickets but they could not be converted into AC ones due to “circumstances”.