The anti-tout squad of central railway apprehended the employee of a Bora Bazaar-based travel firm outside the General Post Office on Tuesday evening with several long-distance tickets on him. While railway rules clearly state that no one would be allowed to book more than two tickets at a time from the reservation counters, the apprehended man, Awadesh Shukla, 19, had 24 tickets with him worth Rs 24360.
What happened on Tuesday:
The commercial department of CR got an information off a person who had booked far more tickets from the reservation centre at the General Post Office opposite CST that what railway rules allow. As raiding the GPO by CR's anti-touting squad is always a contentious issue- with the GPO falling under a completely different ministry- the team waited outisde the GPO to apprehend Shukla. He was nabbed when he came out around 6pm.
What is worrying about it all:
In order to curtail touting, the railway rules permit a person to book just two tickets at a time. However in this case, Shukla was found with 24 tickets worth Rs 24360. The tickets had been booked in serial order and had been taken out in such quick time that all the tickets were still conjoined with the booking clerk not even bothering to tear the ticket at its edges when it comes out of the printer. The tickets were of different dates and destinations and CR officials monitoring the probe said that it had telltale signs of being a touting racket.
How come a reservation centre at the GPO:
The reservation counter inside the GPO was part of the railway policy some years ago to allow post offices and other government establishments like defence establishments to have passenger reservation centres. While the centre is connected to railway servers just like normal reservation centres found at railway stations, the clerkage charges are collected by these respective establishments.
What the CR officials plan to do:
For some time now these reservation centres in sites outside the jurisdiction of railways has been a cause of concern. Railway officials say that since the clerks are employees of the respective establishments and not the railways, chances of them being hand-in-glove with touts remain high. CR recently wrote to the postal authorities to keep a check on the ticket reservation centre at its premises but officials say that nothing seems to have come of it. "Touts might be operating from these places because they know the chances of the RPF or the anti-touting squad being on patrol in such off-site reservation centres is rare," said an official.