Always on guard

Always on guard

Always on guard

Until three years ago, the Bangalore City railway station was a hub for touts. Indiscreet in their operations, they used to sell tickets for large sums of money. The touts would corner travellers during peak travel season and desperate travellers would fall for it.

The Railway Protection Force (RPF) had stepped up its drive to curb touts in 2013 and 2014 and today, senior officials assert that the tribe of touts is non-existent in City railway station.

 The RPF conducted special operations and sent out teams of five or six men in plain clothes to keep a close watch on touts who sell tickets in black.

 “In order to curb the menace of touting activities in Bangalore division, an exclusive special team comprising the RPF personnel of Bangalore division was formed in 2012,” explains S Louis Amuthan, senior divisional security commissioner, RPF.

He says that the special team conducts regular and random raids at Passenger Reservation System (PRS) centres located over Bangalore division. “There’s no fixed time to conduct the raids, the team will start its raid from 3.30 am on some days, just to catch the touts occupying the queue at night. During the raids, officers and staff also interact with passengers at PRS centres and collect their suggestions and feedback in order to provide better service to them. This is also to understand if the travellers are being approached by touts to sell tickets in black,” shares Louis.

The RPF team also makes use of videography at PRS centres to study and identify the touts. “Effective surveillance is continued apart from conducting unrelenting drives against touting activity and a close watch is being kept on travel agents,” explains a senior officer in charge of vigilance in RPF.

A senior officer, heading the special team, informs that in 2012, the RPF officials managed to arrest 258 touts from at PRS centres across the City. Those arrested have been booked under section 143 of Railways Act.

“The court collected a fine amount of Rs 12,42,500. We also seized railway reservation tickets worth Rs 5,37,894 and cash of Rs 24,414 has also been seized from the touts,” explains Louis.

In 2013, the RPF conducted 2,806 raids and managed to arrest 162 touts from PRS centres across the City and the courts collected Rs 7,22,500 as fines. 

Till June 2014, the RPF carried out nearly 1200 raids and arrested 72 touts were arrested and the courts collected Rs 3,74,500 as fine amount.

After extensive operations, he confirms that touting activities have now moved away from the City to other parts of the State. “They have now started using cell phones to book and sell illegal tickets. Although, it is difficult to track the deals struck over the phone, we are trying our best to track down these culprits as well,” adds Louis.

Those who travel by trains regularly confess that the sight of an RPF official in the station instils a lot of confidence in them. Rajesh Krishnan, a banker, says, “I have had RPF officials check my tickets and when I enquired they said that it is a part of their effort to curb touting activities.” 

Sunitha Krishnan, a homemaker sums up, “We need active policing not only in the City but at stations and airports as well. The black market is active in many areas in the City and the police must be harsh on people who indulge in selling tickets in black.”