TIB urges Railways Minister to step down over suspension of TTE over 'fining relatives'

Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan. Photo: Prothom Alo

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) today expressed deep concern and outrage over suspending of a travelling ticket examiner (TTE) of Pakshey Division of Bangladesh Railways after he fined three passengers who were travelling without tickets, introducing themselves as the relatives of the railway minister.

"The decision to expedite the dismissal of the concerned TTEs instead of being rewarded for his impartial duty has sent a clear message to the people that the law does not apply not only to those in powers but also to their relatives in their sphere of influence," TIB said in a statement.

TIB called upon the Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan to step down from his post temporarily on moral grounds for the sake of free, fair and impartial investigation of the incident.

TIB executive director in a statement also said, "The incident is a shameless and worst example of abuse of power."

A travelling ticket examiner (TTE) from the Pakshey Division of Bangladesh Railways has been suspended after he fined three passengers who were travelling without tickets, introducing themselves as the relatives of the railway minister.

However, railway sources said the TTE was suspended on May 5 for "misbehaving with three passengers", reports our local correspondent.

The incident came to light when suspended TTE Md Shafikul Islam, an employee of Pakshey Division in Pabna's Ishwardi headquarter, did not report to work yesterday (May 6, 2022).

"Three passengers entered the AC cabin of the Sundarban Express without tickets, introducing themselves as relatives of the railway minister," Md Shafikul Islam told The Daily Star.

"After contacting high officials, I gave them three non-AC tickets worth Tk 1,050 (350 each) and gave them receipts also. I didn't misbehave with them at the time, and they didn't say anything. There is no question of misbehaving with them," he said.

"I heard that the passengers had complained against me to the high-ups and then I was suspended," he added.

"Later that day, I was informed that I had been suspended," he claimed.

Md Nasir Uddin, Pakshey divisional commercial officer (DCO) of the railway, however, said that the TTE had been suspended due to a specific complaint.

"Md EmrulKayesPranto, a train passenger, filed a complaint with the railway's high officials accusing the TTE of misbehaving with them," the DCO said.

The complainant claimed that the three of them were unable to obtain a ticket at the counter, but they boarded the train due to their urgency. TTE approached them and demanded Tk 500 from each of them, and when they refused to pay, TTE misbehaved with them.

"TTE Shafikul was suspended following a specific allegation of misbehaving with passengers. The railway authorities also asked him to explain the incident before the Railway's Pakshey divisional commercial office on Sunday (May 8, 2022)," said the DCO.

Denying the allegations, the TTE said, "There were no instances of bargaining or misbehaviour... This is completely false."

Asked about the passengers' relationship with the railways minister, the TTE and other railway officials declined to comment.