On Monday, senior officials from the Centre for Information Railway System (CRIS), Delhi, arrived in the city to interrogate Salman Khan, believed to be the mastermind behind one of the biggest railway ticket rackets to emerge recently. Railway officials had arrested Khan on May 2 and seized over 6,000 e-tickets (PNR numbers) valued at roughly Rs 1.5 crore from him. Khan allegedly operated a network of 5,400 agents across the country, and charged Rs 700 per month from each to use his booking software.
Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and Central Railway (CR) officers were also present during the questioning. After the interrogation, the CRIS and IRCTC technical heads (who were also part of the proceedings) submitted a joint report to the railway board, which also included suggestions from the accused on how to end the racket.
According to the joint report, prepared by Sunil Kumar, Group General Manager (IT), IRCTC, and Vinod Bhatia, General Manager, PRS, CRIS, all 6,449 IDs which were used to generate the 6,603 seized PNRs have been deactivated. Apart from that, 1,510 similar other user IDs were also deactivated.
To enhance the security of ticketing systems, the report suggests that passengers’ user IDs be linked to their Aadhaars, and the railways may adopt the suggestion, sources said. The report also suggests that a question or OTP could be introduced after the ‘Book Now’ button is pressed (to break the sequence of automation and make the process more secure).
The report also said raids should be conducted on the agents to whom the accused sold his software. During interrogation, Khan had suggested restricting the IP address. As of now, there is no any restriction on the IP address to book tickets, said an official who was the part of the interrogation. Khan also said such restrictions (only one or two tickets will be generated at time with one IP address) could stem ticketing malpractices. Sources said the railway had started working on his suggestion.