A key tout, allegedly reserving seats in multiple trains within seconds in the tatkal booking period, was held by the Central Railway on Thursday. Using an illegal software, the accused had generated close to 6,000 PNRs for tickets, worth over Rs 1 crore, police said. Passengers had complained about failing to get confirmations even when they reported early to the ticket counters. Even passengers booking tatkal tickets online had complained that their waiting list numbers would go beyond 400 to 500 within minutes of booking.
“It was found that some unauthorised softwares are operating in case of e-tickets, which allow unauthorised agents to bypass the normal queue and seek confirmed reservation through illegal means. A malicious software was being used for this purpose and its main operator could be located through source information,” a senior Central Railway official said. “A joint-action was planned by vigilance, Railway Protection Force (RPF), the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and the Mumbai Division’s commercial branch to nab the operator,” the official added. A preventive check was conducted on May 2 by a vigilance team, along with the RPF Crime Intelligence Branch/Panvel and anti-tout squad, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, at Oshiwara, Jogeshwari West. The kingpin of the racket was found with his laptop and from his software server, 80 e-tickets amounting to Rs 1,04,465 were recovered.
A case was registered against him at the RPF, Byculla, under section 143 of the Railways Act for selling tickets illegally. “We want to keep his identity confidential as the investigation is underway. Disclosing his name and other details may hamper the investigation,” Sunil Udasi, the chief spokesperson, Central Railway said.
“On May 3, the software server and the system were screened and 6,603 PNRs with tickets amounting to Rs 1,47,14,850 were detected. These PNRs have been seized in the PRS system,” the official added. As the tickets have been seized, names of the passengers would not appear in the chart, officials said.
“We are trying to identify such softwares in use so that we can nab other touts, who are illegally booking multiple seats. The investigation is on,” the railway official added. Officials said touts refer to using malicious softwares to reserve at least 70 per cent of seats in trains. They then sell the tickets to their respective clients at higher prices than the actual ticket rates.