In an unprecedented pan-India move, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Railway Ministry conducted Operation Thunder on Friday to nab touts who were illegally misusing the e-ticketing and Tatkal facilities of the Indian Railways. These touts buy tickets en massè and further sell it to needy passengers at a higher price, hence profiting themselves.
The Railways have long suffered from the menace of touts, however, the Railway Ministry under Piyush Goyal is unlikely to let the problem last any longer. The huge raids conducted recently have completely broken the spine of the tout nexus.
Operation Thunder was conducted by all divisions of the Indian Railways. Accordingly, RPF conducted raids in 276 places across 141 cities in the country. According to RPF Director General (DG) Arun Kumar, this being the peak season, the touts who misuse the facilities are much more active. Accordingly, the RPF made several teams and planned to conduct raids on June 13. In the raid, 22,253 tickets worth Rs 32,99,093 (Thirty Two Lakh, Ninety Nine Thousand and Ninety Three) were recovered on which the journeys were supposed to be undertaken. In the past ten days, these touts booked a whopping number of 3,12,00,000 tickets!
The highest number of cases have been reported from Kolkata and West Bengal, followed by Bilaspur which fall under the East Central And South East Central railway divisions respectively. Not only was it found that the touts were manipulating the system, but a hacking system also has been uncovered from Kota, Rajasthan which hacked into the Tatkal system. Moreover, some people were also issuing fake identity cards along with tickets. This indicates the danger this tout system posed to the Indian Railways.
The RPF of East Coast Railway arrested 19 people and seized close to 730 tickets amounting to nearly 15 lakh rupees. Meanwhile, the RPF of Southern Railway arrested 32 touts and seized tickets amounting to around 50 lakh rupees. A total of approximately 400 touts were arrested from across the country from 205 cities.
Piyush Goyal has overhauled the Railway administration under his tenure as Railway Minister, with a special focus on the activities of touts. First, ticketing rules were modified to prevent touts from taking advantage of the system. Now with physical action and pan-India raids, it can safely be said that the touting of train tickets is soon about to end. With the careers of touts about to collapse, the process of train ticket booking is sure to get much fairer and transparent. Also, this Operation Thunder is indeed going to send shivers down the spines of those who have not been nabbed just yet, but they know many such operations are about to follow.