The IRCTC said in a statement that reserving a seat for Lord Shiva in the Kashi Mahakal Express is meant only for the inaugural run as a one-time affair.
Amid a row over reports of a seat reserved for Lord Shiva on the Kashi-Mahakal Express, the train flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has issued a statement.
IRCTC, according to reports, had reserved seat number 64 in coach B5 for Lord Shiva on the train that will connect three Jyotirlingas — Omkareshwar near Indore, Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain and Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi.
In images tweeted by ANI, an upper berth was seen converted into a shrine with staff praying before it. The Press Trust of India had quoted a railway spokesperson, Deepak Kumar, as saying that the seat would be left vacant for the deity.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi had questioned the move and tweeted a photo of the preamble of the Constitution, tagging the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
IRCTC on Monday said the seat reserved for Lord Shiva in the Kashi Mahakal Express during its inaugural run from Varanasi was a “one-time affair” to seek “blessings” for the success of the new project.
“The staff of the new Kashi-Mahakal Express train temporarily put the photos of Shri Mahakal on an upper berth so as to do pooja to seek blessings for the success of the new project (new train and new rake). It is meant only for the inaugural run as a one-time affair,” it said in a statement.
IRCTC is the subsidiary of the Indian Railways that handles the catering, tourism and online ticketing operations.
“The inaugural run was also not open to passengers. There is going to be no such reserved or dedicated berth for this purpose in the commercial run of the train which is starting from February 20, 2020, onwards,” it said.
The first commercial run of the train, which is the third train to be run by IRCTC, is scheduled on February 20.