Unauthorised newspaper with propaganda content boards the Shatabdi Express

A newspaper with a not-so-noble agenda distributed inside Shatabdi Express from Bengaluru

Propaganda just boarded a train forcing the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to scurry for damage control. It all happened when the Shatabdi Express from Bengaluru to Chennai started its journey on Saturday morning. Passenger who boarded their train at the Bengaluru station found copies of The Aryavarth Express waiting for them in their seats.

 Normally what they get to lay their hands are on are the Deccan Herald and a Kannada language newspaper, which are provided to them by a licenced vendor mandated by the IRCTC. But on Saturday, it was a totally different kind of newspaper that awaited the passengers.

The Aryavarth Express aboard Shatabdi isn’t a good sign

Once the passengers started reading as the train started moving, they realised that The Aryavarth Express wasn’t a paper they had seen or read before. For, the content printed on its pages comprised of articles with headlines such as “Genocide of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, under Islamic rule needs to be recognised” and “UN should label Aurangzeb as perpetuator of holocaust like Hitler”. There was more such fiery stuff that had all the traits of blatant propaganda.

A passenger took to Twitter to tell the world about the blatant propaganda being carried out from inside the Shatabdi Express compartments. And that was when the IRCTC realised that something was fishy somewhere.

Officials of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation immediately swung into action and summoned the onboard services licensee. The licensee had a ready answer, and they said that the paper might have circulated as a supplement inserted by the vendor into the approved newspapers. That was just an excuse though, as the passenger who flagged the presence of an unauthorised newspaper with propaganda material on its pages was definitely not an insert and that it was lying on the seat in the open.

IRCTC warns onboard services licensee

A warning has been issued to the onboard services licensee, though they have clarified that the boys who distribute the papers in the train don’t read the contents before doing so. The boys however have been asked not to allow any inserts inside the papers authorised to be distributed in trains.

The question remains as to how such blatant propaganda material got into the train. Does that mean that the IRCTC monitoring teams don’t look at all these aspects as they go around the compartments? A report said that the Divisional Railway Manager of Bengaluru has directed his team to initiate action on the matter.

All said, the IRCTC needs to be more vigilant on aspects such as these. What do you have to say about this?  Let us know in the comments.

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