4 months ago

Will black marketing of railway tickets come to an end?

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There was a time when black marketing of train and bus tickets was a rampant routine practice, particularly before the two Muslim religious festivals, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha and Bangalee Hindus' Durga Puja. With technological advancement and introduction of online ticketing system along with improved surveillance system, the malpractice has been reined in, but could not be rooted out.

After the arrest of nine members of a ticket black-marketing gang known as 'Mizan Syndicate' by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), any hope of seeing the clandestine transaction of tickets as a thing of the past gets severely dented. When there is virus in the antidote, no system can be foolproof. For long 20 years Mizan, the ringleader of the gang, has been involved in black marketing of railway tickets. His rise to a veteran black marketeer from a humble peon is a classic case of how corruption breeds corruption and becomes endemic.

During the 20 years under review, the system of railway's ticket sale and operators have changed several times but Mizan Dhali stayed at Kamalapur Railway Station only to spread his roots. This may sound strange but the fact is that Mizan was considered an experienced employee and the new operators also absorbed him in their set-ups. Thus Mizan developed bonhomie not only with those involved with ticket sale at the counters to online operators but also with bigwigs of the railway. What made it possible for Mizan to retain his job is the clause in the contract that at the time of change in operators of ticket sale, 80 per cent employees of the outgoing operator have to be retained.

This condition was to the advantage of Mizan and he was determined to make the most of the situation. Thus he became instrumental in managing a job for his nephew at Kamalapur Railway Station. A smart guy, Mizan kept in touch with all the railway stations and himself was kept updated with the latest position of ticket sale by operators at the Kamalapur station's server room. The practice of keeping aside 2.0 per cent of tickets of every train under the head of reserve quota, facilitated the malpractice. Only 12 hours before the trains' schedule, the server is opened. Mizan and his gang used to collect those tickets as soon as it was done so that people willing to avail of the opportunity had no option for procuring those tickets. Mizan and his gang members then sold those tickets at exorbitant prices, the RAB had this admission extracted from the culprit himself.

That Mizan has been caught in the RAB net after 20 years gives a mixed feeling. How could the syndicate evade detection of the crime for such a long time? Unless people within the system are corrupt and collude with the gang, this is impossible. Then there is a sense of relief that the gang of black marketeers has at last been arrested. Better late than never. If this is the last vestige of black marketing, the sense of relief will endure. But if other intriguing gangs are still active or some of Mizan's well trained disciples are at large only to stage a comeback with new tricks to outsmart the system, black marketing of railway tickets may not come to an end.

Now that digital systems are exposing chinks here and there, security of people's privacy and important matters including financial transactions often comes under threat. If this issue needs greater attention, there is also an urgency of keeping those serving at key points under constant watch so that any breach of confidentiality can immediately be addressed. 


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