CHENNAI: The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has arrested four graffiti artists from Tirunelveli for illegally painting advertisements on walls on railway premises.
Working in tandem with business firms to publicise products, the accused were carrying out their illegal act on the walls meant for preventing trespassers from entering railway tracks in major cities of Tamil Nadu in the last five years, causing huge loss in advertisement revenue for the railways.
Acting on the directions of S R Gandhi, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, Chennai Division, Southern Railway, a team led by Mambalam RPF Sub Inspector S Maharajan arrested the painters on Thursday evening.
According to sources, the arrested identified as P Saravanan (31), K Sivakumar (40), B Velayutham (40) and V Manivannan used to indulge in the act after dusk.
“They would start working from 6.00 pm and finish their work before dawn. Interestingly, the accused had direct contact with some popular textile shops and electronics goods showrooms in the city and struck deals with them for painting advertisements, thereby causing losses to the tune of several lakhs to the railways,” an official said.
The railways would rent out the notified space on railway premises for advertisements through selected agencies.
In turn, the agencies would market the advertisement space to various companies for publicising their products for a stipulated period. However, bypassing rules, the graffiti artists would approach the companies, offering wall advertisements at a much lesser tariff.
For instance, if a textile shop would have to pay Rs 1 lakh for advertising on wall, these painters would negotiate with the shop management and offer the same for half the rate.
Through this modus operandi, the graffiti artists had minted money.
Asked how these men were thriving in the business for five years without getting caught, a security official felt that the painters could have connived with some officials.
Meanwhile, the four were booked under three sections of the Railway Act, including defacing of public notices and trespassing.