In a major achievement for the Kurla Railway Protection Force (RPF), its officers last week busted a ticket-booking racket that was being operated using hi-tech US-made software.
The software Bhanushali had been using for the last two years to book tickets
Acting on a tip-off, RPF personnel laid a trap and arrested travel agency owner Ashwin Bhanushali for booking tickets using fake IRCTC accounts generated by a software named RoboForm.
Travel agency owner Ashwin Bhanushali
An officer said that Bhanushali would book up to 20 tickets in 20 seconds using the software and make a profit of anywhere between Rs 400 to Rs 2,000 per ticket.
Senior Inspector Ritesh Aatri from Kurla RPF said, “The software enabled him to secure tickets using fake accounts. Investigation revealed that the software was purchased online from the US. Bhanushali owns Panjo Tours and Travels at Asalfa in Ghatkopar and was operating from there.”
During the raid, officers confiscated two laptops used by Bhanushali to book tickets. Their scrutiny revealed that he had been booking tickets using the software for the past two years. Bhanushali was arrested and booked under Section 143 (illegal procurement or sale of tickets) of the Railways Act, 1989. He was produced in the court and is currently in judicial custody.
Tip of the iceberg
Earlier this month, Kurla RPF officers arrested three persons from Kalwa and Navi Mumbai for black marketing of railway tickets. They were identified as Durgesh Jaiswal and Roshan Patel of Krishna Communication from Kalwa and Luv Kush Yadav of Yes Enterprises in Navi Mumbai. Officers said the trio used similar softwares to book railway tickets illegally.
Their interrogation led the officers to software vendor Sadare Alam from Rabale. During questioning, Alam told the RPF personnel that had secured the software online from an Uttar Pradesh-based seller named Sharif Khan. Currently, all five are in judicial custody.
Another officer claimed that Bhanushali’s name first cropped up while they were interrogating the accused and that all of them could be part of a syndicate operating at the national-level.
Owing to the limitation it faces while booking miscreants in such cases, RPF has decided to seek help from the cyber crime cell. “We’ll writing to the cyber crime cell for assistance, so that the accused are booked under the stringent sections of the Information Technology Act,” said Aatri.
About the software
Unlike a regular account holder, the software enables its user to connect to the IRCTC servers without authorisation and book multiple tickets by providing fake information. Such software can be purchased online for anywhere between Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 and the price varies on its ability to generate PNRs.