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Now, Qureshi in ?row on wheels?

india Updated: Sep 17, 2006 01:19 IST
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MINISTER FOR Haj and Minority Welfare Yaqoob Qureshi was today caught travelling by Lucknow Mail without proper ticket, at the Alam Nagar Railway Station, on the outskirts of Lucknow. Also, six supporters of the minister were caught travelling without ticket.

Qureshi had to pay a fine of Rs 4,016. His supporters were fined Rs 10,040.
Railway officials said the minister, along with his supporters, was travelling in ‘D’ coupe of First AC coach. As the train reached Alam Nagar, the checking squad began checking tickets.

However, the minister could not produce the original ticket, while his other supporters were without ticket. Qureshi possessed only the photocopy of his ticket. But railway officials insisted to see the original ticket.

“As per the Railway Act, a passenger, while traveling, is supposed to have the original ticket, while the photocopy is not valid,” said ADRM (II) R Singh.

Railway officials and the minister, along with his supporters, entered into a heated argument over the issue. The officials then threatened to resort to the ultimate punishment of putting the minister and his supporters behind bars.

Qureshi then relented and agreed to pay the fine. His supporters were also fined.

Singh said two berths were booked in Qureshi’s name through the HOR (High Official Requisition). HOR is the facility extended to ministers and other high-ranking officials by the government. Under this facility, the minister does not have to pay money, and the transaction takes place between the government and the Railways.

The ADRM (II) said that he did not know about the minister’s travel plan.

Somebody had informed him that some anti-socials were travelling in the train and causing a lot of inconvenience to the passengers. Singh said he was surprised as to who told mediapersons about the ticket-checking drive.

Sources in the railways said the directives for checking the coach had come from Delhi Railway Vigilance Headquarters after complaints by some passengers in the coach.

As per rules, the minister was allowed an additional berth, which is at his discretion. The ADRM (II) said the ticket of the minister was booked from Lucknow on September 14 and was faxed to Hapur at 11 am on September 15.

The agitated minister said he sensed fowl play on part of the state government and railway officials. He said the State Government, in connivance with the Railways, had attempted to prevent him from reaching a Muslims’ rally in Gonda on Saturday.

The minister said he was in the possession of the original ticket and was prepared to take up the issue with Minister for Railways Lalu Prasad Yadav. Yaqoob alleged that the move was pre-planned. “Otherwise how mediapersons along with cameras could have come to know about the checking at 6.45 am?” he asked.

Speaking about his ticketless supporters, he claimed that they included his gunner, and that his attendant had a sleeper class ticket. He said the other supporters came to him only after coming to know about the commotion. But the railway officials said that the supporters were travelling in First Class AC along with the minister.

Owing to the commotion, the train got delayed by 45 minutes at Alam
Nagar.

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