It's raining money for touts at Bangalore railway station

Employees-Government Railway Police-touts nexus exposed

 Long queues for train tickets at Bangalore railway station. DH Photo

All one needs is to enter the section where general tickets are issued and a tout accosts you with a friendly poser: “Tamil Nadu or Kerala?” And he lays down the conditions clearly: Rs 30 for an open ticket to Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Rs 40 for any place in Kerala; ticket within two seconds!

These rates are probably the cheapest. A person clad in a railway uniform manning an STD booth charges a flat Rs 60 for any open ticket. “I take only Rs 40 while the GRP nearby has to be given a cut of Rs 20,” he alleges. When asked why the amount was given to the cops, he said, “That is because they allow us to jump the queue and get the ticket at the counter instantly, a privelege that a normal passenger in the queue does not get.”

A helpful, licenced coolie points out to a couple of his colleagues who are specialists.  “They can even get you a reserved ticket for tonight’s train by interceding with the TTE. But remember, the extra amount will range between Rs 100 and Rs 150.”  Comparatively, charges for open tickets are just Rs 30 to Rs 40. “Don’t worry, take an open ticket and I will use my towel to book a seat for you!” he assures.

A top official claimed that touts were in vogue earlier but were not there at present. “Just last month, we suspended two coolies indulging in such activity and they have been reinstated now after a warning.” He denied any kind of involvement by railway ticketing staff.

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Meanwhile, when the matter was brought to the notice of the Superintendent of Railways, GRP, D C Rajappa, he initially said that “any Tom, Dick or Harry can level such baseless charges against the GRP” and demanded proof of it. This reporter then had to buy a ticket to Chennai in his presence. A sum of Rs 200 was handed over to a physically- challenged employee wearing a railway coat. Within a minute, he returned with a ticket to Chennai costing Rs 95. “I am taking an additional Rs 40 for me and Rs 20 for the police, here’s your balance of Rs 45,” he said with a smile.

The stall was immediately shut down and the person taken into custody by the Superintendent and his men. “We will interrogate him and identify the black sheep in our department,” Rajappa assured. “I will suspend the constable or sub-inspector, whoever is involved,” he promised. He said a meeting would be held with all stall owners on Saturday to put a halt to such acitivity.  Half the number of people in my crime cell has been sent to Mysore due to the Dussehra festival. “Touts are cashing in on the less security around,” the SP added.

DH News Service

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