A curious case of "lizards" being found in railway food was finally cracked after it was found that a senior citizen was the serial offender who contaminated his own meal to get free ones from the national transporter.
A senior divisional commercial manager noticed the uncanny similarity in the modus-operandi in the cases and alerted the latest railway division which fell prey to Surender Pal's trick.
"He was the same person. He claimed to have found a lizard in the samosa he ate at Jabalpur station on July 14. Then he complained that a lizard has been found in his biryani at Guntkal station. I became suspicious and alerted the senior DCM and shared the man's photo. He turned out to be 70 plus and did it for free meals," Basant Kumar Sharma, Senior DCM, Jabalpur, told PTI on phone, adding that it seemed that Pal was doing this for some time.
At Guntkal station, when Pal was accosted by senior officials, he confessed and even recorded a video in which he said he was using a "fish which cured mental illness" for his tricks.
In the video, officials can be seen talking to the man, explaining to him that railways was a national pride and it belonged to the public. He was chastised for giving railways a bad name. But he was assured that no action would be taken against him if he promised to change his ways.
"I have done the wrong thing. I am an old man, I am mentally unstable, I have blood cancer. Please let me go. In Punjab there is an ayurvedic medicine. I used a fish which cures bone diseases and mental illness," he is heard saying in the video when officials asked him what did he put in his food.
Pal also claimed that his father was a senior DCM, to which officials said it was not right for him to fraud the railways which was like his family.
It was not clear whether Pal was mentally unstable as he claimed or if he really had "blood cancer", but railway officials across the network are sure to remember him for his ingenuity, officials said.
Till October, Railways had received more than 7,500 complaints from passengers over bad quality of food served on trains and imposed fines of about Rs 1.5 crore on vendors.