(Reporting by Amit Kotecha)
MUMBAI: There are many bizarre things that happen in Mumbai. On Thursday, Railway authorities in the city auctioned off a ticketless traveller to recover the cost of the fine. That may sound like a weird statement, but the ticketless traveller was unable to pay the fine - she was a goat.
Railway authorities 'caught' the ticketless goat on Wednesday evening. The authorities received reports that a passenger on a train was travelling with a goat, which is not permitted under the Railway's rules. The man was confronted by a ticket collector at the Masjid Station of the local railway.
When it became apparent that the man had not bought a ticket, abandoned the goat and made a dash for it. The ticket collector was left standing there with the goat. This pushed the Railway authorities in a pickle. The ticketless man wasn't going to come back, now what were they to do with the goat?
After consultations, the authorities decided to auction the goat off. She was tied up at the railway station and a member of the staff was deputed to take care of her. The officials fixed her auction price at Rs 3000. But there were no buyers for the goat.
Now, the Railway staff were stuck with a goat on their hands, and they had to take care of her overnight. The caretaker, presumably a fan of the cult hit 'Sholay', named her Basanti.
On Thursday morning, the authorities gave the auction another shot. This time, they sold Basanti for Rs 2500. In a high standard of irony, perhaps because this happened in 'Maximum City' Mumbai, the fine for travelling on a Mumbai local train without a ticket is just Rs 256, just over 10 percent of the price that Basanti was sold for.
Perhaps Basanti's human companion should have just paid the fine and taken Basanti along with him.
The Railways administration had been forced to think hard about the case and come up with a well-considered decision, said Central Railway PRO Prane Patil. It seems no amount of out-of-the-box thinking could have prepared them for this kind of a situation that Mumbai threw at them.