New Delhi. In a significant development, Railway Minister Ms. Mamta Banerjee today announced a new rule for Indian Railways that would empower TTEs (Train Ticket Examiners) to penalize passengers indulged in persistent snoring or farting while traveling. The penalty could range from a fine of 500 Rupees to five hours of imprisonment inside the train toilet.
The rule was announced while presenting the Railway Budget for financial year 2010-11, and will come into effect from next week.
The rule has been welcomed and come as a relief to millions of non-snoring-non-farting railway commuters, who otherwise were disappointed with the minister over non-introduction of new facilities to enrich the traveling experience. Such harassed commuters will now have an option of complaining to the TTE about a snoring or farting passenger causing discomfort to them, following which the TTE would be free to exercise his punitive powers right away.
“It’s a very good decision. In fact I would say that this is the best that Mamtadi could do to better the traveling experience. What’s the use of other facilities when there is a farting zombie sitting with you? Can you imagine a situation where you are served the most delicious food by the Railways and as soon as you open the packet, the guy sitting next to you farts? It sucks man!” Prashant, a railway commuter said, “Same goes for snoring losers; what’s the use of being offered a cozy berth with Kashmiri shawl if the guy sleeping on the next berth is sending out a wake up alarm all the time?”
But many people believe that the new rule curtails the fundamental rights of people, especially the right to equality and the right to freedom of expression. They believe that fining or imprisoning someone is akin to treating them like criminals, which violates the fundamental rights of people.
“On what basis farting or snoring could be deemed as a crime? On one hand we oppose the suspension of a gay professor in AMU because homosexuality has been decriminalized, and on the other hand we are witnessing farting and snoring being criminalized. This is shocking. Just like the gays choose to release their sexuality in a different way, these people choose to release air in a different way. How can it be a punishable crime?” Ashant, a Human Rights activist protested, threatening mass agitations against the rule.
These activists suggest that people having problems with snoring or farting passengers should change their berths instead of victimizing the poor souls.
Fearing a showdown between protesters and supporters of the new rule, some pacifists have suggested a system that could allow people to indicate themselves as farters or non-farters while booking the tickets so that the railways can club them separately and allocate berths accordingly.
Ms. Mamta Banerjee promised to look into the matter but she categorically denied that the rule could be scrapped following these protests, which means that rest of the passengers can breathe a whiff of fresh air for now.