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Bangladesh - 3 weeks ago

Railway employees active in illicit ticket operations

Staff Correspondent : Despite repeated measures, the black market of railway tickets can’t be stopped. As ticketing systems become more modern, so do the types of crimes. Due to the involvement of some railway officials and employees, the tickets became black market from the day of release of advance tickets. Last Thursday, 9 people including Newton Biswas and peon Mizan Dhali, the server operator of Sahaja.com, the mastermind of the black market, were arrested, but the railway officials involved in them remained out of touch.
Several railway officials said that Newton would have managed the ticket if no one could give the ticket. Under the umbrella of booking assistants, members of the black-market clique took about 75 percent of the tickets and then sold them at higher prices by showing an artificial crisis. Not only the ticket booking assistant, but the booking master to the station master and managers are also involved in this cycle.
In this way, the gang has grabbed crores of rupees but has remained out of touch for a long time. Several passengers who travel regularly in the train said that even if they pay Tk 900 or Tk 1 thousand for a ticket of Tk 500, they can get a ticket. Every station has a strong ticket black market cycle. Tickets are not available from the counter at every station in the eastern region, but tickets are available from the station premises for an additional fee. Desperate passengers buy tickets at higher prices.
Arrested Newton Biswas had been working as a server operator since 2012 after the train ticketing company CNSBD started its journey. He has been involved in the black market since his tenure at CNS. Later in 2020, Sahaj.com got the responsibility of the server operator of the new organization after getting the responsibility of selling tickets. Being from Gopalganj, he was the most powerful in the circle. Being in charge of the software, everything was at his fingertips. From Sardar Shahadat Ali, Additional Director General (Operations) of Railways, senior officials used to call Newton for any ticket.
Several officials and employees of the Railway Trade Department said that although the names of ticket black marketers have been listed at various times, the names of railway officials and employees involved in the cycle have never been listed. But many of them are directly involved in ticket black market. As a result, black market cannot be stopped despite repeated arrests of gang members including recovery of illegal tickets. Apart from that, it is also alleged that this circle is facilitated by dishonest officials. As a result, to prevent the black market, even if the initiative is taken to cut the ticket by showing the identity card, the black market cannot be prevented.
Several officials of the railways said that despite various complaints against the railway ticket selling company Sahadh.com, including selling the same ticket to multiple passengers, not returning the money even after returning the ticket, no action is taken against the company. The company allegedly had a relationship with an Additional Director General of Railways and also gifted the official a flat in Mirpur. On the eve of the 12th National Assembly elections, the official hastily re-leased 8 trains to a company named SR Trading without any tender. Currently, the company is operating 38 trains on lease. As the Additional Director General has good relations with the contracting firms including Sahaj.com, no action is taken even if they violate the rules.
Earlier on January 26, RAB arrested 14 people on charges of black-marketing of railway tickets. At that time 1,224 train tickets were seized from them. They used to collect more than 500 tickets daily through black market and sell them at higher prices. The arrested persons were black-marketing the train tickets with the help of railway station employees, Sahaj.com officials and server room and IT wing staff.
Minister of Railways Zillul Hakim said that a syndicate is involved in the ticket black market. People of Sahaj.com and Railways are also involved with them. Two syndicates have already been caught and brought under the law. If any railway officials or employees are involved in this, they have also been ordered to be brought under the law. At the same time, Sahaja.com has been given strict instructions to keep the ticketing system running properly. The use of modern technology and instructions have been given to law enforcement and railway officials to stop black market of tickets. No concession will be given in this regard.

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