Catering to a nation with a population exceeding 1.3 billion, the Indian Railways is facing a very high demand for seats and berths. The demand-supply gap has widened over the years despite capacity augmentation by Railways. This gap has led to mushrooming of touts who use different means to corner reserved seats and then sell them to the needy at a premium.
The use of illegal software for cornering confirmed railway reservations online had adversely affected the availability of confirmed tickets to the common man. Railway Police Force (RPF) has been undertaking intensive and sustained action in a mission mode under the code name “Operation Uplabdh” against persons involved in touting (unauthorized carrying on of the business of procuring & supply railway tickets).
Recently, on the basis of pinpointed digital input supplemented by Human Intelligence, an RPF team, on August 5, 2022, succeeded in nabbing Mannan Vaghela, a travel agent of Rajkot, who was using illegal software i.e. COVID-19 to corner railway tickets in bulk.
Further, another person named Kanhaiya Giri (super seller of illegal software, COVID-X, ANMSBACK, BLACK TIGER, etc. was arrested on July 17, 2022, from Mumbai on the basis of information provided by Vaghela. During interrogation, Giri spilled the beans revealing the names of other associates and Admin/Developer Abhishekh Sharma of Vapi, who was also arrested on July 20, 2022.
Abhishekh Sharma confessed to having been the Admin of all these Illegal software. On the basis of leads provided by the arrested accused, three more accused, namely Aman Kumar Sharma, Virendra Gupta, and Abhishekh Tiwari were arrested from Mumbai, Valsad (Gujarat), and Sultanpur (UP) respectively. The RPF is in search of a few more suspects involved in this case.
These accused were involved in the development and sale of this illegal software using social media i.e. Telegram, WhatsApp, etc. along with providing fake virtual numbers and fake user IDs of the IRCTC. These accused had software to create fake IP addresses used to bypass the restriction imposed on customers to obtain a limited no of tickets per IP address. They sold disposable mobile numbers and disposable emails too which are used for OTP verification to create fake user IDs of the IRCTC.
In the course of legal action against all these accused, in this case, 1,688 tickets valued at Rs 43,42,750 where the journey could not be started have been seized and forfeited. In the past, they had procured and sold tickets worth 28.14 Crores earning huge commissions. This shows the extent of the generation of black money which could have funded other nefarious activities.
The inputs revealed by the accused are being examined threadbare by a team to plug the loopholes and take measures to stop such practice. This operation will continue in the future.