52year Old Man Running Train and Revenue in Bihar

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Many passengers using Bihar’s ‘local’ trains don’t buy a ticket, but not on the 7-am service that runs from Katihar to Manihari. For six years now, this train in the North-Frontier railway division has been running with good revenues. Behind this feat is one man’s relentless effort. Angad Thakur, 52, a social activist from Manihari has been using ‘Gandhigiri’ with a twist: ‘pleading’ with the passengers to buy tickets. That alone, he tells them, can keep the train running.

Mr Thakur is a prominent social activist in Manihari and surrounding areas of Katihar district in north Bihar. He dresses for his ticket crusade in a white khadi kurta-pajama, black ‘bundi’ and wraps a white khadi towel around his neck. There’s also a Gandhi cap. It is almost a daily journey to Manihari, some 30 km south of Katihar for the father of two young sons. At other times he vends official forms and papers outside the local Sub-Divisional Office. The campaign began in 2011 when Mr Thakur and his friends organised protests and sit-ins at the office of Katihar’s Divisional Railway Manager, asking for the metre gauge track on the section to be made broad gauge and for more trains on the route. Manihari, on the Ganga’s banks, is a big vegetable hub. The railway changed the track, but the officials said the trains would run on a trial for a month. If revenue was low, the service would go, they told Mr Thakur.

“I started pleading with the passengers to buy tickets. After a month, the revenue was more than double the railway’s target. My journey since has not stopped,” he says, smilingly asking a middle-aged woman whether she had bought a ticket. The fare between Katihar and Manihari costs just Rs. 10. But, there is no Travelling Ticket Examiner on the train or at Manihari to check.

“If someone is poor, we buy the ticket and ask them to pay whenever they are comfortable,” said Ainul Ansari, a co-campaigner. Mr.Thakur has formed a Nagrik Sangharsh Morcha (People’s Struggle Force) to pursue social cam

News Courtesy: The Hindu



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