Touts use ‘Covid’ to book railway tickets | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Touts use ‘Covid’ to book railway tickets

ByShashank Rao
Mar 23, 2023 12:36 AM IST

Mumbai: Following the rise in demand for long-distance train tickets in view of summer vacations, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the commercial department of the Western Railway (WR) have intensified crackdown on touts and agents selling illegal tickets

Mumbai: Following the rise in demand for long-distance train tickets in view of summer vacations, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the commercial department of the Western Railway (WR) have intensified crackdown on touts and agents selling illegal tickets.

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As part of the drive, the officers pose as customers and raid touts. These raids are carried out based on analysis of email IDs, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) usernames and mobile numbers that are frequently used to book train tickets.

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During one such raids, the officers noticed that the name ‘Covid’ was used frequently. During inspection of laptops and rail tickets they realised that ‘Covid’ is a software being used to generate tickets illegally.

“Our cyber patrolling team also monitors social media sites like Facebook and WhatsApp etc to monitor transactions, mentions about such illegal software, suspicious buying and selling based on the inputs that we receive. Covid is one such software that we found during our raids, which got its name as it was started during the Covid-19 pandemic,” explained a senior railway official.

The software is among many used to illegally book tickets on the IRCTC system. “This software is used to bypass security measures like one-time password (OTP) and captcha. In fact, nowadays touts also use YouTube and WhatsApp to promote these ticket generating software and offer them on sale as well,” an RPF officer, who is part of ‘Operation Upalabdh’, said.

Earlier, several special drives were conducted and action was taken against use of illegal software like Decent, Altimate, Sharp, Delta S-2, Voltas, King Pro, Nexus and Crome. There are almost 25 such software available.

Meanwhile, the RPF has so far arrested 63 touts and confiscated 1,680 railway tickets worth 38.97 lakh in 2023. In 2022, the RPF had arrested 367 touts and seized 7,507 railway tickets worth 1.52 crore.

Sources said surprise raids on suspicious tour and travel agents and touts at passenger reservation system (PRS) centres at railway stations are also conducted with help of CCTVs. Human intelligence is being collected at local-level to identify those involved in business of illegal railway e-tickets, while the IT cell formed at divisional-level scrutinises the data and extracts suspected IDs. These are then disseminated to field staff to conduct raids at the suspected address.

Moreover, the RPF has also detected and apprehended culprits in almost 120 theft cases with the help of CCTVs in the first two months of 2023.

Sumit Thakur, chief PRO, WR, said, “We have installed 3,802 CCTV cameras, including 488 with inbuilt facial recognition system, which contains details of criminals along with their photos which are uploaded in the system to curb crimes.”

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