The most interesting part of Thursday night's TTE suspension saga was the speed at which it unfolded. As soon as the people claiming to be the minister's relatives complained against TTE Shafiqul Islam, he was slapped with an immediate suspension.
It all began when on Thursday three passengers at the Ishwardi railway junction station boarded an AC cabin without tickets on the Dhaka-bound Sundarbans Express.
When Shafiqul Islam, the on-duty travelling ticket examiner (TTE) asked to see their tickets, the three passengers refused and introduced themselves as relatives of the Railway Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan.
TTE Shafiqul responded by charging them for three tickets in a non-AC coach, and slapping them with a fine of total Tk1,050.
Furious at the TTE's audacity, the trio filed a complaint against him, which was followed by the prompt suspension.
Nasir Uddin, Pakshi divisional railway commercial officer (DCO), later told the media that he was not suspended because he fined these people, but because he misbehaved with them, an allegation Shafiqul has denied.
Even though the minister informed the media on Saturday afternoon that the ticket defaulters were not his relatives, he nevertheless supported the disciplinary action taken against the TTE on the ground that he treated the passengers poorly.
While it is quite possible that Shafiqul may have crossed a line in his treatment of these passengers, it is impossible to see how the authorities could have arrived at that conclusion at such speed and without carrying out a thorough investigation.
If the TTE Shafiqul's derring-do and his consequent suspension surprise you, even enrage you or make you sad for an honest officer, then a look at the past will be a grim reminder that this incident actually is not the first of its kind.
Remember Anti-Corruption Commission's (ACC) Sharif Uddin's suspension saga earlier this year?
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) said that while working in Chittagong, Sharif played a key role in conducting large-scale anti-corruption campaigns in land acquisition, NID and passport fraud of Rohingya refugees and irregularities in Cox's Bazar, and filed lawsuits against those involved in those corruption scandals. TIB questioned if ACC sacked such a skilled official for exposing the powerful.
The list of government officials who were sacked, punished or reprimanded for standing up against corruption is actually long. From Sarower Alam, who conducted an operation in Haji Selim's residence, to the famous Mahbub Kabir Milon who is currently the HC appointed managing director of Evaly, the list of government officials who paid a price for doing their job is long.
TTE Shafiqul's bravery is thus only a continuation of messages and lessons being delivered to government officials who dare to question the powerful - both real and pretenders.
What message does the latest saga give to the country's government employees?
"The message is absolutely negative," former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder told The Business Standard.
"The TTE is a field-level government official who works on trains days and nights. When three people occupying the AC berth without tickets introduced themselves as the minister's relatives, the officer carried out his responsibility correctly," Majumder said.
"He actually should have been rewarded because he is a brave man. But instead, he was punished with a temporary suspension. Even more tragic is that his departmental seniors spoke against him, instead of protecting him," he added.
Disciplinary actions like this do not seem to follow the proper procedures, the former cabinet secretary added.
Transparency International's Iftekharuzzaman said that this incident is a "blatant example of abuse of power."
The TIB executive director said the incident involves abuse of power on two levels.
First, travelling without tickets claiming to be a minister's relative, and secondly suspension of a public official for discharging the duty entrusted to him.
"While he should have been rewarded, it is unfortunate that a wrong message has been relayed very strongly that 'abuse of power has to be treated as part and parcel of life in this country; perpetrators will be protected and those willing to do their jobs honestly will be punished'," Iftekharuzzaman said.
"An independent and credible investigation should be held to ensure accountability not only for the unauthorised travel but also for the decision to suspend the staff," he added.