Two men have been arrested from Lucknow for allegedly using fake letterheads of Members of Parliament (MP) to send requests for the confirmation of berths under VIP quota for Mumbai-bound express trains. The alleged scam in the Northern Railway Lucknow division came to light on June 17 when the two people used the letterhead of late Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Devi Prasad Tripathi to book a berth in the sleeper class of Pushpak Express. The politician had passed away last year in January after a three-year-long battle with cancer.
According to the senior divisional commercial manager Ajit Kumar Sinha, suspicion was raised when the railway officials received the request from Tripathi’s letterhead. The officials then tried contacting the former MP on the phone number that was shared on the letterhead, but the number was inactive. Thereafter, the officials informed the Railway Police Force (RPF) and got to know that many complaints have been made in the past regarding the misuse of VIP quota on fake letterheads of ministers and MPs.
The team then decided to lay a trap in order to catch the miscreants. They confirmed the berths for the passenger as requested in the letterhead. On the specified date, when a passenger came to the railway station to board the train, the RPF team got hold of him.
During questioning, the passenger told the police that he did not know that the seat was booked using fraudulent means. He had approached two people who ran a ticket booking business and charged Rs 500 from each person to book a berth in an express train.
Following the passenger’s lead, the police nabbed the two men who used to run this scam. They have been identified as Syed Saleem Hussain from the Thakurganj area and Pankaj Singh Kushwaha who belonged to the Niwajganj area of Lucknow.
The RPF team has also recovered 13 fake letterheads belonging to five MPs and details of 51 tickets worth Rs 32, 800 that the arrested men booked from their personal accounts.