A mid-level official of the Railways claims he has been “censured for poor performance” and shunted to an “irrelevant” training course in “unexplained haste” for his refusal to supply toilet paper rolls to the residence of Railway Board chairman, Arunendra Kumar.
Ajay Singh, a director-rank official whose last posting was as a senior divisional mechanical engineer with Northern Railway, has written a letter of complaint to A K Puthia, chief mechanical engineer of Northern Railway, claiming he is “being victimised”.
Singh alleges that he received a call from Kumar’s residence at 1, Moti Bagh on August 9 “ordering” him to send toilet paper rolls. Singh says he refused to send the rolls and later did not pay a visit to the chairman’s wife, Kanta Kumar, despite being told to.
Toilet rolls and other such supplies are meant for passenger coaches.
Arunendra Kumar told The Indian Express that the allegations are “baseless”. Replying to Singh’s allegation, Kumar said:
“Now that we are reduced to discussing toilet papers, let me tell you we don’t even use toilet papers at home.”
He asked if it was not far-fetched to claim that “in this day and age, officers will require toilet papers from railway supplies?”
“Are we to believe that if the chairman needs a pillow in his house, he will take it from railways stores?” Kumar asked rhetorically. Singh says on August 26, he received a letter ordering him to a five-week training on “Procurement Process for World Bank Funded Projects”. And on August 27, he got a letter “casting aspersions” on his “professional competence”. A copy of the protest letter is marked to eight senior Railway officers besides Puthia and is in possession of The Indian Express.
In the five pages of allegations, Singh has documented all the calls he received from the top bosses of Northern Railway following his refusal. Singh says Puthia called him at least thrice, on August 14, 21 and 23, asking if the latter had visited Kumar’s wife. “I had informed that I had not done so,” Singh writes.
On August 26, Singh got a letter dated August 25 and signed by Puthia regarding his deputation to training. And a day later, he received the letter “casting aspersions” on his “professional competence”.
Kumar said Ajay Singh should have spoken to his superiors if he had grievances. “I think the officer’s only fear was that he would be transferred out of Delhi. It is again a figment of his imagination because as far as I know, there was no such plan,” he said.
Kumar said Puthia will prepare a response. “If his perception of the railway administration is what is reflected in the letter, the establishment will respond to it. His superiors will counsel him and take necessary action. There is no question of punishing him,” he said
Ajay Singh’s letter further reads: “These two developments clearly indicate a certain unexplained haste by CME (chief mechanical engineer) himself in removing me from Sr DME post… It is rather unusual that I am first sent on training for five weeks and then issued a letter casting wrong aspersions on my performance, thus even denying me opportunity to take corrective action if at all necessary. Quite clearly, this is a case of complete denial of natural justice to me.”
To Singh’s allegation of punitive training, Kumar said: “Since when is sending an officer on training a punishment? I’m sure he would not have thought so if the training was in New York or some exotic foreign location.”