After swooping down on a massive scam being perpetrated in the Indian Railways, CBI has arrested its own assistant programmer Ajay Garg and his front man Anil Gupta, a private person. The scam involved developing and distributing certain software to agents for a price. The news was confirmed by a CBI Spokesperson Abhishek Dayal on Thursday who added that the two accused were operating at pan-India level. Garg and Gupta, who were arrested from Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh by the central agency were brought to New Delhi on Wednesday where they were questioned till late in the night. It was during this questioning when it emerged that their network was spread across the country.
The agency has so far identified 10 travel agents who were part of the network but their questioning is exposing more agents who subscribed to their illegal services, they said. The present version of the software was developed nearly a year back, they said. “The case is (being pursued) in line with our policy of having a robust internal mechanism of ensuring probity and having a zero-tolerance towards corruption,” CBI Director Alok Verma had said.
Garg had reportedly joined CBI in 2012 through a selection process and has been working as an assistant programmer. The 35-year-old software engineer had previously worked for IRCTC, which handles the ticketing system of the Railways, between 2007 and 2011.
The CBI probe so far has indicated that Garg learnt the vulnerabilities of the IRCTC ticketing software during his tenure there which he exploited in his software, CBI said. “These vulnerabilities still exist in the IRCTC system that is why his software was able to dodge it for booking hundreds of tickets at one go,” the officials said.
Reacting to this development, Railway minister Piyush Goyal has directed the IRCTC and the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) to strengthen cybersecurity in the wake of the ticketing scam unearthed by the CBI.
“Information was received about running of illegal operations to book tatkal tickets of Indian Railways in illegal manner. After swift enquiry, it was found that Ajay Garg, ex-IRCTC employee and presently working with the CBI, was the kingpin of this entire network which involved numerous other persons,” the Railway ministry said in a statement.