Employee Today

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Extortion at Pune Railways’ parcel office: Touts, RPF personnel have a free run

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The Indian Railways’ parcel service at the Pune Railway Station, which is the most-preferred service especially when it comes to transport of two-wheelers, has become a hub of illegal activities with touts and security personnel harassing visitors and extorting money from them.

The touts along with the Railway Protection Force (RPF) have been reportedly found to be extorting money for the services, citing non-existent rules.
When Pune Newsline visited the Parcel Booking Office, it was found that whenever someone approaches the office to dispatch a bike, the RPF personnel in civil clothes, ask the customer to produce the original registration documents of the vehicle, identity card of the user, a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) of the local RTO where the bike is registered and vehicle insurance documents. 
If any of these documents are not there, the person has to pay Rs 100 to 300 to the RPF personnel, for which no receipt is given.
It is noteworthy that as per the Indian Railways’ parcel rules only a photocopy of the Registration Certificate Book (RC Book) and a copy of identity card of the dispatcher are required. There is no mention of the NOC from the RTO or of insurance documents.
A commercial department official, who works closely with the parcel office that falls under the Divisional Commercial Department, said the RPF personnel present at the premises have no reason to be there.
“The RPF men have no role to play when a customer wants to make a booking at the parcel office. The form has to be submitted to the parcel office clerks, who need to collect the RC book copy and check the documents. Yes, we have observed that the RPF personnel have set up a desk on the premises ‘officially’ where they ‘check the documents’ even before a customer approaches us. They take money from them, which is basically bribe, for letting the customer dispatch the bike without producing NOC and insurance documents which, as per rules, are not required at all,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Pune Newsline observed that this illegal cartel is run by RPF personnel with the help of touts who lead those wanting to dispatch a bike to the RPF men rather than straight to the booking office.
Half a dozen parcel agents – both authorised and unauthorised – whom the Newsline interviewed said, for being involved in routing customers to RPF personnel, they get an opportunity to make money by packaging the vehicle (to avoid transit damage) for which they charge Rs 450 per bike.
“Most of the people who operate here for packaging are unauthorised. The RPF can stop us from entering the premises. However, they let us operate and in return, we have to take customers to them from whom they take money for not producing the documents,” said a 32-year-old man who earns a living by packaging bikes at the parcel office.
Mushtaq Shaikh, (29) an employee of a pharmaceutical firm, who visited the parcel office on Friday, narrated his experience of dispatching his bike to Parbhani, his native place.
“Even before I entered the premises, I was approached by several parcel agents inquiring if I wanted to dispatch the bike. When I showed interest, one of them took me aside and enlisted a long list of documents that were a must. I told them I had everything except the insurance papers with me. Then, he told me that I’ll have to speak to the RPF personnel who check the documents. He told me that I’ll have to pay Rs 300 to the RPF for not possessing a document. After I filled the form, I was taken to the RPF RPF personnel (in civil clothes) who checked the documents and asked me Rs 300. Then, the tout took me to the booking office where I paid Rs 635 as the booking charges,” said Shaikh, adding, he had to pay an additional Rs 450 for packaging.
This is not all, the Newsline found that even those who come to collect the bikes received through railway parcel have to pay money for delivery. A person has to pay Rs 100 just to locate his vehicle. There are ‘helpers’ who provide the service— removing the packaging material for Rs 50.
“I gave my gate pass to the ‘helper’ to find my bike and remove the packaging, thinking he was a railway employee. Later, he asked me for Rs 150,” said Anurag Saxena, an engineer hailing from Jaipur, who works in Pune.
The RPF personnel at the exit gate of the Parcel Office was also spotted taking a bribe of Rs 100 from almost every person who approached him with a gatepass by the Newsline.
“He only needs to check the gate pass and tally the item details. However, he would ask you a number of original documents and conduct checks on the bike such as traces of petrol. They are not authorised to do,” said the Commercial Department official.
Asked about the involvement of RPF, Divisional Railway Manager BK Dadabhoy said, “We will investigate the matter and if it’s found to be true, we will take strong action against those involved. These are serious allegations and such illegal practices need to be nipped in the bud.”
VOICES
*  “The RPF men have no role to play when a customer wants to make a booking at the parcel office. The form has to be submitted to the parcel office clerks. Yes, we have observed that the RPF have set up a desk on the premises where they ‘check the documents’. They take money from customers, which is basically bribe, for letting them dispatch the bike without producing NOC and Insurance documents which, as per rules, are not required at all.”  Commercial Dept official
*  “Most of the people who operate here for packaging are unauthorised. The RPF can stop us. However, they let us operate and in return, we have to take customers to them from whom they take money for missing documents.” A packaging official
*  “We will investigate the matter and if it’s found to be true, we will take strong action against those involved.” BK Dadabhoy, Divisional Railway Manager
SOURCE - http://indianexpress.com/

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