New Delhi: A "propagandist" newspaper distributed on board the Bangalore-Chennai Shatabdi Express has snowballed into a controversy, drawing political reactions and prompting the IRCTC to initiate an enquiry in the matter.
The IRCTC has admitted that the paper -- "The Aryavarth Express" -- was "unauthorised".
The matter was raised by passenger Gopika Bakshi, a gender justice campaigner, on Twitter.
"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?" Bakshi wrote on the microblogging site on Friday.
Congress MP B Manickam Tagore also questioned how such a newspaper found its way 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 the Shatabdi express? Will write and raise the issue in Loksabha.#IndiaAgainstHate," he tweeted.
Another Congress MP, Karti Chidambaram, also questioned how such a newspaper got into the list of the publications subscribed by the IRCTC.
Sources said the IRCTC, the ticketing-and-catering arm of the railways, has approved Deccan Herald and one other local paper as the two publications to be distributed onboard trains in the region. These newspapers are distributed on board by IRCTC licensees.
"We have ordered an enquiry into this and action will be taken against those found responsible. This paper is not among the IRCTC-approved publications," IRCTC spokesperson Anand Jha said.
The divisional railway manager, Chennai said an enquiry in the matter is being conducted by the DRM Bangalore.
"The latest update is that DRM Bangalore is investigating the issue on how an unauthorised newspaper found its way into the train. We like to inform everyone that the train belongs to the Bengaluru division and the incident happened there. We are sure they would take appropriate action," he said in a tweet.
In a tweet later, IRCTC said the newspaper in question was found inside the regular, approved newspapers as an insert.
"The newspaper vendor has been strictly advised to avoid any such inserts in future. Onboard monitoring staff will keep a strict vigil of the same. The licensee of the train has also been counselled," it said.
In a reply to the IRCTC tweet, Bakshi countered the claim made by the rail subsidiary, saying "it was not an insert - it was on my seat when I boarded. Deccan Herald was on the next seat".