The CBI on Wednesday arrested one of its own assistant programmers for allegedly running an IRCTC Tatkal ticket racket with travel agents.
According to the CBI, Ajay Garg had allegedly developed a software that could simultaneously book more than a thousand tickets through one portal.
A CBI statement said: “The said public servant had earlier worked in Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) during 2007 to 2011. It was further alleged that the accused had developed one illicit software for duping the Tatkal ticket booking system being run by IRCTC and conspired with a private person whereby they were indulging in distributing the said software to private persons for their unauthorized use for a hefty consideration.”
The statement added: “It was also alleged that the said accused was collecting money for the use of such software by certain booking agents and had amassed huge wealth from these activities. It was also revealed that accused were allegedly receiving money from the dealers for the use of said software through Bitcoins and hawala network.”
Garg was arrested by the agency in Delhi based on “source information”. His associate, Anil Gupta, was arrested in Jaunpur.
The agency conducted searches in 14 locations across Delhi, Mumbai and Jaunpur at the residences and offices of the accused and several travel agents.
According to a CBI officer, while working in IRCTC, Garg “identified loopholes in the ticketing software of the railway service provider. In 2012, after clearing his UPSC exams, he joined the CBI and developed the software a year ago.”
“This case is in line with the CBI director’s policy of having a robust internal mechanism of ensuring probity and zero tolerance towards corruption,” CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said.
The Railway Ministry claimed it had received information about the illegal booking of Tatkal tickets and that Garg had been identified after a “swift inquiry”.
“Hon’ble Minister of Railways Shri Piyush Goyal has now further ordered to continue this drive and identify similar cases which are causing inconvenience to the genuine passengers,” a ministry statement said.
Sources said Garg had even set up back-end infrastructure for the users of the software and given user IDs and passwords to various travel agents to help them book hundreds of tatkal tickets at one go.
The software would automatically register the number of tickets taken of by each agent and Garg would collect money per ticket from agents.
Gupta was Garg’s middleman who circulated the software among agents and collected payments, sources said.
The case has been registered under sections dealing with criminal conspiracy, computer related offences for unauthorised access and damage to computer/computer system, unauthorisedly carrying on business of procuring and supplying of railway tickets and criminal misconduct.
During its searches, the CBI has found Rs 89.42 lakh in cash, gold jewellery worth Rs 61.29 lakh — including two gold bars of 1 kg each, 15 laptops, 15 hard disks, 52 mobile phones, 24 SIM cards, six routers, four dongles, 19 pen drives and other incriminating material from the premises of Garg and 10 travel agents — seven in Jaunpur and three in Mumbai.