Have you ever tried to book a Tatkal Railway ticket and failed? Well, that is the case with most people who ever tried to make a Tatkal booking on IRCTC website. More surprising used to be the fact that some of the ticket agents were able to book the same confirmed tickets from their end. For this, these agents charged extra money. So, what was the game all about? An engineer working with country’s premium probe agency Central Bureau of Investigation has been arrested for duping the entire Indian Railway Tatkal booking system. The techie, Ajay Garg, has been arrested by CBI from Delhi after it was found that he allegedly played a big role in a racket that duped the entire Tatkal system. Garg was allegedly the brain behind one such illicit software which allowed the ticket agents to book hundreds of Tatkal tickets with a single click of the mouse.
Along with Garg, CBI has also arrested Anil Gupta, who worked on the front while the former remained veiled. CBI has said that Gupta was responsible for developing and distributing the software to agents for a price. Besides Gupta, Garg’s family members are also alleged to be involved in the scam. Garg’s parents, wife, sister and brother-in-law are believed to be instrumental in making collections from travel agents using his software.
The way Garg collected the payments from these agents is another surprising detail that has emerged. Garg collected the money in the form of bitcoins and through hawala channels to avoid scrutiny. The security agency has also arrested 10 agents — seven from Jaunpur and three from Mumbai — in this connection so far. Speaking to media, CBI director Ashok Verma said the case is in line with agency’s policy of having a robust internal mechanism of ensuring probity and having a zero tolerance towards corruption.
Under Tatkal Booking system, a premium quota for the tickets opened at 10 am for AC class and 11 AM for non-AC coaches for the trains departing next day. Under the scheme, a fixed number of seats, in each coach, are sold at a premium by the railways to travellers who need tickets urgently. However, a common complaint of passengers is that by the time they enter details on the IRCTC website or complete booking process, seats under Tatkal quota gets full within minutes of start of the booking. The customers complain bookings are either rejected or they get a wait-listed ticket that too at a very steep prices.
Surprisingly, some travel agents offer to provide confirmed tickets under the quota by charging a premium, over and above railways prices.
The recent arrests of Garg and Gupta have exposed the alleged software trickery used by them to exploit the vulnerabilities of IRCTC ticket booking system.
– About Ajay Garg: Thirty-five-year-old Garg had joined the CBI in 2012 through a selection process and has been working as an assistant programmer. Earlier, he had served with IRCTC, which handles ticketing system of the railways, between 2007 and 2011.
The CBI probe has found that Garg learnt the vulnerabilities of the IRCTC ticketing software during his tenure there, which he exploited in his software, they said.