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A ticket to ride

Bhartendu Sood talks about corrupt TTEs overcharging poor labourers on a train to Chandigarh.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2007, 00:18 IST
Bhartendu Sood
Bhartendu Sood
Hindustan Times

I was travelling from Lucknow to Chandigarh and the train halted at Saharanpur around 9 am. As I was sipping

tea, I heard a commotion. I looked around and saw the travelling ticket examiner (TTE) arguing with some labourers over some ticket-related issue. I went up to the group and told the labourers: “You shouldn’t travel without

a ticket.”

“Saheb ticket to liya hai,” said one of them. The TTE added: “These tickets are not valid for the superfast train.” Turning towards the official, I said: “They are illiterate; they can’t distinguish between a superfast and an ordinary train. Please show them some consideration.” The TTE showed me a paper and said: “Look, I have been issued a memo for not meeting the target. Now, how do you expect me to leave them?”

I was about to answer when another TTE joined the discussion. After hearing us out, he said to me: “Sir, if you are so sympathetic towards them, then please pay the penalty amount of Rs 3,600. If you can’t, then allow us to do our work.” His curt reply left me stunned and the officials took the labourers to their office.

The train I was travelling on was delayed due to some technical reason. I decided to discontinue the journey to complete some pending work in Saharanpur. As I approached the exit gate, I saw the labourers again. “What happened?” I called out to them. “Saheb, do hazar me kaam bana,” said one of them and showed me a receipt for Rs 1,080. Incensed, I asked one of them to come with me. I walked into the TTE’s office and showed him the receipt.

He took me aside and said, “Sir, we are not so heartless. The total penalty amount was Rs 3,600 but we charged them only Rs 2,000. We made a receipt of Rs 1,080. By doing this, we ensured that the railways got something. We have taken just Rs 900 for our daily peg. Sir, please understand our predicament: we can’t lay our hands on educated people like you because you travel with valid tickets. Then, how can we meet our targets?”

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