Newspaper distributed on train creates controversy, IRCTC initiates probe
A newspaper distributed on the Bengaluru-Chennai Shatabdi Express on Friday raked up a controversy, prompting the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to launch an investigation. The newspaper—The Aryavarth Express—carried articles like "Genocide of Hindus, Sikhs, & Buddhists under Islamic Rule needs to be recognized" and "UN should label Aurangzeb as perpetuator of Holocaust like Hitler" on its front page. Here's more.
- Rajni Hasija, IRCTC's Chairman and Managing Director, told The Indian Express only complimentary copies of Deccan Herald and a Kannada newspaper are part of the contract for onboard distribution on the Bengaluru-Chennai Shatabdi Express.
- However, the "unauthorized" The Aryavarth Express still found its way on the train.
- The presence of a newspaper with "controversial" content on an Indian Railways train raised serious questions.
This morning I boarded the Bangalore-Chennai Shatabdi Express only to be greeted by this blatantly propagandist publication on every other seat- The Aryavarth Express. Had never even heard of it. How is @IRCTCofficial allowing this??? pic.twitter.com/vJq7areg8u— Gopika Bashi (@gopikabashi) April 22, 2022
Moreover, the IRCTC admitted that The Aryavarth Express was unauthorized and it has also issued a warning to its onboard services licensee. The Indian Express reported the licensee for the train, PK Shefi, said the newspaper got circulated as a supplement inserted into the approved newspapers by the vendor. However, one of the passengers, Gopika Bashi, clarified on Twitter it was not an insert.
IRCTC tweeted the newspaper in question was found inside the regular, approved newspapers as an insert, reported news agency PTI. It has also taken the necessary action. "The newspaper vendor has been strictly advised to avoid any such inserts in [the] future. Onboard monitoring staff will keep a strict vigil [on] the same. The licensee of the train has also been counseled," IRCTC tweeted.
Shefi added that the boys who distributed the newspapers did not understand that they contained the "controversial paper" as a supplement. He also said they don't really read the content of the newspapers they distribute. "I have instructed them to not distribute any supplements or pamphlets and just distribute the main paper from now on," said Shefi as quoted by The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, Congress MP B Manickam Tagore questioned the presence of such a newspaper onboard a train. "Will Hon'ble Rail minister order an inquiry into it? Whether it's the proved policy of the @RailMinIndia to allow propaganda material in...Shatabdi Express? Will write and raise the issue in Loksabha.#IndiaAgainstHate (sic)," he tweeted. Congress leader Karti Chidambaram questioned how this newspaper got into IRCTC's list of publications.
Moreover, Chennai's Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) said an inquiry was launched by Bengaluru's DRM. "The latest update is that DRM Bangalore is investigating the issue on how an unauthorized newspaper found its way into the train. We like to inform everyone that the train belongs to Bengaluru division and the incident happened there. We are sure they would take appropriate action," Chennai's DRM tweeted.