Nagpur: Come Summer Holidays, hundreds of families plan travel to their favourite destinations for visiting relatives for one reason or the other or spend time at tourist places. And the one mode of travelling the families prefer is Railways. But booking a confirmed reservation ticket in the summer rush is a herculean task. The charts are riddled with long wait-listed passengers. This helpless situation, however, proves a ‘boon’ for touts, who in connivance with Railway babus, recover hefty amounts from desperate passengers and earn moolah. If reports and sources are to be believed, the reservation counters at Nagpur Railway Station and at other places have turned a hub for touts, big or small, who are hobnobbing with the babus and recovering premiums from passengers who desire to travel on reserved tickets. The scenario on May 11 was no different but a hitch in the plan of touts.
According to sources, the gangs of touts operating at Nagpur Station were on May 11 tipped and alerted, apparently by a Railway official, over a surprise check by 25-member Flying Squad. The touts were clearly advised to stay away from reservation counters or else would be in deep trouble. In this tricky situation, the touts forced their customers (passengers) to complete the reservation process by themselves but did not forget to recover hefty charges. Moreover, the passengers were forced to stand in serpentine lines at reservation counters as if to show everything is normal. It ultimately proved a double whammy for the passengers!!!
Sources further said that a travel company and two dozen other touts were in the field who had taken responsibility of booking reserved tickets for passengers and had taken outrageous amounts as well. However, on the night of May 10, around 10.30, the customers were informed about the Flying Squad’s surprise check on May 11. The customers were warned of trouble, for them and touts as well, if anything goes wrong. The outcome of this tricky situation was that the customers were forced to stand in long queues at the token and reservation counters despite coughing up enormous amounts to touts. The word of surprise check by Flying Squad made the scenario somewhat different at official level, too. The concerned Railway and police officials registered their presence and frequent inspection of reservation forms and identities of passengers standing in the queues. Interestingly, almost at all reservation counters, the first 20-25 persons standing in the queues were ‘men’ of touts and later were replaced by genuine passengers, said the sources.
According to sources, it is understood that the touts took extra money in the range of Rs 400-1000 or more from the customers for providing them the confirmed reservation tickets in summer rush. This amount reaches the figure in lakhs and lakhs when the overall turnover of touts during rush hour is scanned by naked eyes of any layman. VVIP or VIP quota is not everybody’s cup of tea. The only way to travel to the favourite destinations in this summer holiday rush goes through the touts, of course, with a cost.
… Rajeev Ranjan Khushwaha