The probe committee has started investigation into the allegations against train ticket inspector (TTE) Shafiqul Islam for misbehaviour with and fining three passengers, who were travelling ticketless and introduced themselves as relatives of the railways minister.
Shafiqul Islam and one of the passengers, Imrul Kayes, were questioned on Sunday (8 May) afternoon.
The head of the investigation committee and Pakshi Divisional Assistant Transport Officer (ATO) Sajedul Islam said the committee listened to their version of the incident from the two.
"After identifying the railway workers and some passengers on the train on the night of the incident, their comments will be heard. Then the investigation report will be given," he said.
Following the interrogation, Shafiqul Islam said, "I am happy that the dismissal order has been revoked. Thank God. Since I work for the railways, I work for the country, I am grateful to the higher authorities for giving me the opportunity to join the work."
Earlier in the day, Shahidul Islam, Pakshi Divisional Manager of Railway (West), spoke to the media about the situation.
He revoked the order of suspension of TTE Shafiqul Islam in front of the media and ordered him to remain in office. At the same time, he fixed 11 May 11 as the date for probe report submission.
Shahidul Islam said he would take necessary action after receiving the investigation report
"In this case, if the person who fired the employee had done the work at the instigation of someone, then action will be taken against him. This matter will be clear once the investigation is over," he added.
Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan also has admitted that the three passengers who were fined by TTE Shafiqul Islam on Thursday for travelling ticketless are his relatives. Earlier, the minister had claimed that he had no relationship with them.
He has also said the TTE would be rewarded and promoted if he is found not guilty.
In addition, he has directed the authorities concerned to issue a show-cause letter to Pakshey DCO Nasir Uddin for suspending the TTE.
While addressing the press at the Rail Bhaban in Dhaka on Sunday, the minister also clarified that it was his wife who lodged the complaint against TTE Shafiqul.
Nurul Islam Sujan also said he felt "embarrassed" by the phone call his newly married wife made to a railway official following the incident.
According to sources, three passengers boarded Sundarbans Express from Ishwardi railway junction station on Thursday and were going to Dhaka in an AC cabin without tickets.
At one point, on duty Shafiqul asked for their tickets. Instead of complying with the query, they introduced themselves as the minister's relatives.
The TTE then fined and gave the three tickets for regular seats in a non-AC coach. The passengers had to pay around Tk1,050 in total.
TTE's suspension on phone call from minister's wife
The trio who were fined filed a complaint against the TTE in Dhaka.
Meanwhile, railways minster's wife made a phone call to the Pakshey DCO asking for the TTE's suspension, claimed the mother of one of the passengers.
Later, the TTE got suspended for reportedly being rude to passengers.
Railway's Pakshey DCO Nasir Uddin said he was informed that a TTE misbehaved with three passengers.
"Shafiqul was suspended after I was informed about the matter."
But, Shafiqul Islam refuted the allegations.
He said, "I did not misbehave with them. The passengers claimed to be relatives of our minister.
"Out of respect and following discussions with my seniors, they were shifted to a non-AC berth."
Media outcry and minister's drama
The incident drew widespread criticism and many including right-bodies like the Transparency International Bangladesh demanded resignation of the rail minister.
The minister, however, on Saturday claimed that he was not related to the ticketless passengers.
"I have no relationship with them. Someone may have tried to take advantage by using my name," he said while responding to reporters after the suspension of the TTE.
The incident drew widespread criticism and many demanded the resignation of the rail minister.
Meanwhile, the divisional office of Bangladesh Railway's (BR) West Zone at Pakshey formed a three-member probe body to investigate the incident.
The committee led by Assistant Transport Officer (ATO) of Pakshey division Sajedul Islam has been asked to submit its report within two days.
When asked about TIB's reaction to the incident, the minister said, "The TIB's statement was issued in a hurry. They did it before confirming my involvement here."
Following the incident, Pakshey DCO Nasir Uddin in a statement claimed TTE Shafiqul was mentally disordered and a drug addict.
The DCO also claimed that due to his mental disorder, the TTE misbehaves with the passengers most of the time.
"TTE Shafiqul Islam has been suffering from mental depression and in-priority complex as his friends are in better position than him. Therefore, he used to bark with the passengers and colleagues without reasons," he said.
Pakshey Divisional Railway Manager Shahidul Islam, however, said making such comment before inquiry is unexpected and embarrassing.
Meanwhile, in a reaction Shafiqul Islam said "I do not understand why the DCO sir dubbed me as a drug addicted and mentally disordered. On the day of the incident I collected Tk78,000 in fine and deposited it to the treasury."
"Is this possible for a disordered man?" frustrated Shafiqul said.
No favour for passengers with reference
From now on, no favour and facilities will be entertained in railways with the reference of the railways minister's personal secretary, assistant personal secretary, near relatives of the personal officers and the project directors, reads a fresh directive of the railways ministry issued on Sunday.
However, it does not bear any direction regarding the minister's reference.
The directive signed by Joint Secretary Mohammad Atiqur Rahman, however, says that recently it has come to their attention that some people have been demanding special benefits while travelling on the train, claiming to be relatives of the railways minister.
Many people claim favour over the phone, using railway high-ups as reference, from the project directors of Bangladesh Railways, it added.
When the railways minister was informed about the matter, he ordered legal action against them, says the letter.
The minister also directed law enforcement agencies to collect their phone numbers and track them down.
The officials concerned and staff of Bangladesh Railway have been instructed not to get confused by the imposters and to avoid any activity outside the official process.