New Delhi: 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 that 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," said Jabalpur Senior DCM Basant Kumar Sharma, adding it seemed that Pal had been doing this for some time.

When Pal was accosted by senior officials at Guntkal station, 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 and explaining to him that the railways was a national pride and 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 a 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 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 to be 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, the 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.

Guntakal Railways ivision wrote on its Twitter hanlde, 'In joint operation one conman was caught who was fleecing the Railway Caterers by claiming lizard in food. He confessed his crime. He did similar trick in Jabalpur Division. Please beware of such elements, who bring Railways in bad light.'