Fining ‘minister’s relatives’: Train ticket checker suspended

Minister says he does not know if they were his relatives; TIB demands he step down
Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan. Photo: Prothom Alo

Amid widespread criticism over the suspension of a travelling ticket examiner who fined three individuals travelling without tickets and claiming to be related to Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan, the minister yesterday said he did not know whether they were indeed his relatives.

Shafiqul Islam, a TTE of Bangladesh Railway's (BR's) Pakshey division in Pabna's Ishwardi upazila, was suspended on Friday, a day after he fined the three people who boarded the Dhaka-bound "Sundarbans Express" at Ishwardi junction without tickets.

They were in an AC cabin of the train and the TTE gave them tickets for a non-AC carriage and asked them to go there.

BR authorities said they suspended Shafiqul after one of the three passengers filed a complaint of misconduct in Dhaka on Thursday.

The incident triggered outrage in social media. Suspended Md Shafiqul Islam did not report to work on May 6.

Transparency International Bangladesh called upon Nurul Islam Sujan to step down from his post temporarily for the sake of a free, fair and impartial investigation into the suspension.

The railways minister said yesterday, "I have no information about who they [the passengers] are. As a result, I do not know if anyone [falsely] claimed to be my relative. And everyone from my constituency [Panchagarh-2] can say they are my relatives because they voted for me, but that does not mean they can ride the train without a ticket."

The minister said he learnt that action against the dismissed TTE was taken in light of a written complaint.

He said the TTE might be trying to hide his offence and save himself by making up such a story.

Officials are reviewing the matter and also checking whether there was any negligence on the part of the TTE, he added.

Nurul Islam said the TTE will be rewarded if the allegations against him were proved wrong.

"If the TTE had fined even my wife and children for not buying tickets while travelling by train, I would support him," Nurul told reporters yesterday.

A three-member committee was formed to investigate the incident. The assistant transportation officer of railway, Pakshey Division will lead the committee, said Nasir Uddin, Pakshey divisional commercial officer (DCO) of BR.

It is very rare for a government employee to be punished so soon after receiving a complaint from an ordinary citizen.

Different media outlets reported that the three persons, who were travelling without tickets, identified themselves as relatives of the railways minister.

"Three passengers entered the AC cabin of the Sundarbans Express without tickets, introducing themselves as relatives of the railways minister," Shafiqul Islam told The Daily Star. "After contacting senior officials, I gave them three non-AC tickets worth Tk 1,050 [Tk 350 each] and gave them receipts. I didn't misbehave with them at the time, and they didn't say anything. There is no question of misbehaving with them. I heard that the passengers had complained against me to the high-ups and then I was suspended."

Md Nasir Uddin, said, "Imrul Kayes Pranto, a train passenger, filed a complaint with the railway's high officials accusing the TTE of misbehaving with them."

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

"TTE Shafiqul was suspended following a specific allegation of misbehaving with passengers. The railway authorities also asked him to explain the incident before BR's Pakshey divisional commercial office on Sunday," said the DCO.

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


Pakshey DCO Nasir Uddin said in a handwritten letter, Imrul Kayes Pranto, one of the three passengers, accused the TTE of demanding extra money and threatening him.

The TTE was also mentioned as a "drug addict" in the complaint.

The letter was dated May 5, and the TTE was suspended the following day.

Khurshid Alam Khan, a lawyer of the Anti-Corruption Commission, told reporters that the way the TTE was suspended was against the government service rule.

Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder told The Daily Star that according to government rules, any allegation against a government official or employee should be investigated and action taken accordingly.

"If the allegation is of a 'grave offence' or a serious one, the concerned person can be suspended before the investigation. If not, action will be taken based on the findings of the investigation," he added.

Majumder said he did not think the incident to be a serious allegation warranting a suspension without investigation.

"As a TTE, it is part of his responsibility to prevent such travel. What has been done in this case will send a negative message to government officials who want to carry out their responsibilities boldly. Instead, those who break the law will be emboldened."


১ ঘণ্টা আগে|নির্বাচন

‘আইনজীবী’ লিটনের মোট আয়ের ৮১ শতাংশই মাছ চাষ থেকে

রাজশাহী সিটি করপোরেশন নির্বাচনে আওয়ামী লীগ মনোনীত এই মেয়র প্রার্থী তার নির্বাচনী হলফনামায় নিজেকে আইনজীবী হিসেবে উল্লেখ করলেও এখান থেকে কোনো আয় তিনি হলফনামায় দেখাননি।