For making Kharge walk up to his coach, 2 senior railway officers suspended

Mallikarjun KhargeKharge personally did not seem to mind the walk and sources said no communication was received from the ministerís office for any penal action on any staff (PTI image)

Two senior railway officers got suspended for a day because they had made the coaches of a special train for Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge halt several feet short of the red carpet laid out for him, due to which the 71-year-old Kharge along with his entourage had to walk some steps further to board his saloon at the Lucknow station on Tuesday.

Aghast at the "lapse in protocol", the General Manager of Northern Railway through the Divisional Railway Manager, Lucknow, issued the suspension order of Senior Divisional Mechanical Engineer (Carriage and Wagon) Swapnil Garg and a Coaching Depot Officer. The order was communicated verbally through the Railways's control messages phone ó an unprecedented way of suspending a Class-I officer. No formal letter was issued, only the message was logged in a register.

The incident sent the senior bureaucracy in the ministry into a tizzy not just because of the reason of the suspension but also the way it was handled as one of the officers, Garg, belongs to the joint secretary-grade and had received the minister's award of excellence just a few months ago.

The association of Group-A officers in the Railways complained to the Railway Board on Wednesday and sensing the heat, the suspension order was revoked, again, through a verbal communication. "I'm told an inquiry will be carried out to decide further," said one of the two officers who did not wish to be identified. "I don't know what our fault was."

Sources said the local railway was to add eight coaches to the minister's saloon train but instead, 10 coaches were added because of which the minister's coach fell further from where it was intended. A day before the minister's visit, Garg had come to Delhi to meet the Chairman, Railway Board on a sanctioned leave and had joined back on Tuesday morning before the minister's arrival. This "absence" is also being cited as a lapse and will be inquired.

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