Nine months after the then railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge’s VIP saloon stopped little short of the marked place and he had to walk nearly 50 feet to board it at the Lucknow station, an additional secretary rank officer of the Railways has been issued an administrative censure.
The incident occurred during Kharge’s visit to the Research Designs and Standards Organisation in Lucknow on November 5 last year. Since the saloon did not stop at the marked spot on platform number 1 of the station, the minister had to walk a few more steps. Immediately after the incident, two senior railways officials were suspended.
Last week, Ashwani Lohani, who is posted as Chief Administrative Officer of the Indian Railway Organisation for Alternative Fuels, was issued “counselling” as an administrative action against him.
Railway Bhavan sources said the action was based on an inquiry conducted by the Railway Board. Lohani, who was the Chief Mechanical Engineer of Northern Railway at the time of the incident, was not present in the function attended by Kharge. Sources said in the “counselling” letter he got, it has been said that he should have been there at Lucknow that day.
Although “counselling” is just a corrective action in nature and not a penalty, it goes into the records of the concerned officer.
On the day of the incident, two director rank officials — Swapnil Garg and A K Mal — were suspended following which the Federation of Railway Officers’ Association had protested. In a letter to Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar, the association had said, “Such action in a democratic country reminds us of the British Raj, or worse still a totalitarian state.”
Lohani too had protested the suspension of the two officers and wrote a letter to the Railway Board, saying, “Prima facie it appears to be a case of botched up operations and therefore punishing the two officers is a blatant travesty of justice.” Both the officers were reinstated within 24 hours of their suspension.
Later an inquiry was conducted by Additional Member (Traffic) of Railway Board A K Maitra, who submitted his report last month. Based on that report, Lohani got “counselling”. Sources alleged his name was not mentioned in the inquiry report but he still got “counselling” because of bad relations with some senior Railway Board officers.