The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has cracked down heavily on touts and illegal ticket agents on the Central Railway this year. In the first 10 months of 2011, the special squad of the RPF had registered cases against 169 touts and collected a fine of Rs 1.97 lakh.
This is almost thrice the number of cases registered during the same period last year. Only 60 touts were arrested in the first 10 months of 2010.
“We deployed intelligence branch officers at booking windows this year to keep a check on touts. These officials, dressed in plainclothes, posed as normal commuters and thus were approached by touts,” said PC Sinha, senior deputy security commandant of RPF.
The RPF had planned this campaign during the peak holiday season. “On some days we were able to arrest more than 20 people,” said an RPF official involved in the crackdown.
The RPF also found that illegal travel agents avoided repeating people at the ticket windows to purchase tickets, preferring instead to recruit new faces to avoid detection.
The RPF feels that penal action against touts acts as a greater deterrent than the mere imposition of fines.
“We arrest these people under Section 143 of the Railways Act, which provides for imprisonment up to one year or fine up to Rs 10,000 or both. After cracking down on the touts we now want to go after agents blocking railway tickets by using the e-ticketing system,” said Sinha.