BENGALURU: Touts have been having a field day the last three days due to the heavy rush of passengers heading home for Deepavali, onboard the Sanghamitra Express, which terminates at Bihar. With just two unreserved compartments in this train, touts who block them well before they enter the platform of the Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna railway station have been auctioning those seats.
A senior railway official told The New Indian Express that relatives of passengers they sent off at the station complained that they were being asked to pay sums of money, ranging between Rs 200 and Rs 500, for a seat in the general coaches. The absence of Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Government Railway Police during the last three days, when the train departed at 9 am from Platform One, has contributed to this scenario, the official said.
With the travel time to Danapur in Bihar, scheduled to take 48 hours, these passengers are ready to part with these sums to reach their hometown comfortably.
Explaining the modus operandi, another official said that some degree of connivance by railway staff contributed to it. “When the incoming train heads to the platform, the doors of a few compartments are left unlatched. It moves slowly and a few touts rush into the compartments. They use towels or other items and mark their seats,” he said.
In the case of Sangamitra Express, four touts have taken control of each coach, since there are only two general coaches.
Asked about the issue, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, RPF, Bengaluru, Debashmita Chattopadhyay Banerjee said, it was not possible for the Railway Police to be present everywhere.
“At present, we are doing a kind of dynamic placement of our staff. Wherever we get complaints from the public, we ensure our staff is posted there to redress them,” she said. The RPF has been cracking down on touts at stations in the Bengaluru Division, the last six months. “A few touts operating on the same Sangamitra Express were caught a month ago,” she added.