The weekend had hardly begun and it witnessed some outrage when it emerged that copies of the Congress mouthpiece ‘National Herald’ newspaper, was found aboard the Swarn Shatabdi Express to Amritsar. National Herald is embroiled (along with its owners Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi) in an alleged scam.
In fact, recently the National Herald ‘newspaper’ had also published a baseless hit job against Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, which was immediately fact-checked by us. And only yesterday, it was again in eye of a controversy for spreading fake news.
So it was natural that many social media users found it outrageous that such a propaganda driven pamphlet should find a space in Railways:
And to Congressi dolts, how can you print Dec 3 as the date? Time travel? pic.twitter.com/VzPRmfrG88
— I.B.T.L (@IndiaBTL) December 2, 2017
WTH is wrong with Modi Govt! Dynasty owned National Herald in Indian Railways! Not even a paper, a front to legitimize the Family’s loot of Real Estate! https://t.co/4bYXDmSwTe
— हम भारत के लोग (@India_Policy) December 2, 2017
OpIndia got in touch with officials in the Rail Ministry who denied that the Congress mouthpiece was being distributed as part of some formal agreement between the publishers and the Railways. The officials said that complimentary copies of some newspapers are indeed distributed by the IRCTC through catering licensees in some selected trains, but National Herald was not one of them.
The officials said that if some passengers have found National Herald being supplied as a complimentary copy, it must have been put in the coaches when the trains are stationed at yard or at platform by the publishers or someone else, without any approval from the licencee/ IRCTC. Officials said that the development has been noted by the ministry after the outrage on social media, and station staff or waging line staff may prevent this unauthorised activity in future.
The officials further said that regardless of the printed price of the newspapers, Railways reimburses Rs. 2 per passenger based on occupancy, and only 8 newspapers were enlisted for this arrangement in the Northern Railway zone, and National Herald was not on the list. They again denied any formal arrangement involving any financial transaction. The same was confirmed by Northern Railway on Twitter:
“NR does not purchase National Herald for distribution in trains. Eight leading newspapers being provided on Amritsar Shatabdi by our authorised contractor – National Herald is not one of them. “@IndiaBTL @RailMinIndia @PiyushGoyalOffc @PiyushGoyal @PMOIndia
— Northern Railway (@RailwayNorthern) December 2, 2017
So it appears that the publishers or distributors of the Congress mouthpiece National Herald are using the railways in an unauthorised manner to spread the party propaganda. Railways officials said that an inquiry will be undertaken to find out how these unauthorised copies found their way into the coaches of Shatabdi Express.