As thousands of commuters wait patiently in serpentine queues at Reservation Centres and in front of personal computers to book train tickets, fraudsters join hands with corrupt railway staff to corner confirmed tickets, even before the computer opens at 8 am every day. To understand the ramifications of this nationwide scam, here are three samples, as published in Mid Day:
* Ticket PNR No: 2103821429 --- Booked at: 7:58:22
* Ticket PNR No: 8339503795 --- Booked at: 7:58:43
* Ticket PNR No: 8240753475 --- Booked at: 7:59:08
The time of booking reveals the nature of the scam, says the report. Just minutes before 8 am, the official time at which ticket booking counters open for the public, the confirmed tickets are cornered by a bunch of touts in connivance with railway clerks.
The Mid Day report says, thousands of such confirmed tickets are clandestinely booked through the e-ticketing passenger reservation service across the country.
It's a daily rail ticket booking scam that could run into a few hundred crores of rupees annually.
Mid Day claims to have obtained several documents indicating that thousands of rail tickets are booked barely two minutes before the reservation counters open for people who queue up at booking offices. The computers at reservation counters are active at 8 am.
Sources in the railways said a few thousand tickets are cleared in the crucial two-minute period. The names and other reservation prerequisites are fed into a special software and this data is immediately processed.
Insiders said the scam was perpetrated in connivance with technical staff.
More than a few lakh rupees are distributed to a few officials in the Computer Section for making the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation's ticketing service available to hundreds of clandestine operators.
"These operators use fictitious but common names like Khan, Singh or Sharma to book tickets," the sources said. "Even single names like Nisha, Reshma and Karim are fudged so that the tickets can easily be sold to prospective customers.
Operators make a thriving business by selling these tickets to those travelling to cities in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and New Delhi, the report says.