The magnitude of the railway reservation racket run by unauthorised ticket agents during the vacations came to light on Thursday following raids by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The anti-corruption branch (ACB) of the CBI and the vigilance wing of Western Railway raided three unauthorised agencies and recovered railway tickets worth Rs 5 lakh.
The CBI seized 358 railway tickets, confirmed and cancelled, during the day-long raids and arrested seven agents and their employees. The accused were handed over to the Railway Protection Force.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, CBI (ACB) Mumbai, Praveen Salunke, said agents pushed their men ahead of others in reservation queues. “Common people, who stood in queues for hours, were deprived of confirmed tickets as the unauthorised agents’ men had booked them,” said Salunke.
CBI officials said agents even managed to book tatkal tickets. “The agents charged Rs 100 extra per ticket booked much in advance and Rs 300 extra for every ticket booked under the tatkal system,” a CBI official said requesting anonymity.
The CBI also found that the agents booked tickets under fake names and sold them to gullible passengers.
The CBI is also investigating if railway staff were involved in the racket.
Salunke said the CBI decided to crack down on agents because it had received many complaints about the racket. The CBI seized Rs 29,000 in cash from Sagar Travels, Andheri, with 188 tickets and 819 railway requisition slips used to book tickets. The tickets were valued at Rs 3.3 lakh.
The owner of the agency, Gajendra Jain, his brother Rajesh, and two employees Pintoo Verma and Manish Kamdar were arrested. The CBI also seized rubber stamps including one of chief reservation supervisor, Andheri. The team also confiscated a blank letterhead of Amravati legislator, Ravi Rana. The CBI suspects the rubber stamps and letterhead were forged and has informed Rana.
Another raid was conducted on Sri Krishna Travels and Tours in Malad where 27 confirmed and 20 cancelled tickets, valued at Rs 47,000, were found. The CBI arrested the owner, Ranjit Singh.
The third agency was Maharaja Travels in Malad from where 40 confirmed, 49 cancelled and 34 e-tickets were seized. The value of these was Rs 1 lakh. The officers seized Rs 7,430 cash. The agency’s owner, Nihal Shah, and his employee Suresh Naik were arrested.
The tickets seized were for destinations such as Delhi, Jaipur, Bhusawal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which see heavy passenger traffic in the vacations.