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Rail ticket racket busted, terror links being probed

THE ASIAN AGE. | VINEETA PANDEY
Published : Jan 22, 2020, 7:02 am IST
Updated : Jan 22, 2020, 7:02 am IST

Gang members may have links with Tableek-e-Jamat in Pakistan.

The gang was making roughly Rs 15 crores a month on ticket bookings using illegal softwares.
 The gang was making roughly Rs 15 crores a month on ticket bookings using illegal softwares.

New Delhi: In a major breakthrough, the Railways Protection Force (RPF) has busted a gang that was carrying out illegal ticketing and possibly siphoning the money off for terror funding. The men in the gang are believed to have links with Tableek-e-Jamat in Pakistan. The gang was making roughly Rs 15 crores a month on ticket bookings using illegal softwares.

RPF chief Arun Kumar said on Tuesday that the mastermind of this gang — Hamid Ashraf — had jumped bail and is absconding. He is suspected to have fled to Dubai via Nepal. Ashraf is also alleged to be involved in the bombing of a school in Gonda in Uttar Pradesh in 2019. He was arrested by a joint team of Central Bureau of Investigation, Railway Vigilance and UP police in 2016 from Basti (UP). Ashraf is the main “developer”’ of the software that is used to book illegal tickets.

However, the number two in the gang — Gulam Mustafa — is in police custody at present in Karnataka. Ghulam Mustafa was arrested from Bhubaneswar recently. “He has 563 personal IRCTC IDs, and a list of 2,400 SBI branches and 600 regional rural banks where he is suspected to have accounts,” Mr Kumar said.

Interestingly, the 28-year-old madrassa educated Mustafa is a self-taught software developer from Jharkhand with no formal technical education. “Mustafa’s named cropped up during questioning of arrested touts. He had started with touting of counter tickets in Bengaluru and later graduated to e-tickets. He was dealing in Bit-Coins and other crypto currency also,” the officer added.

“Dimensions of money laundering and terror financing is suspected, hence, other agencies like NIA, Special Bureau, ED, ISD, IB and Karnataka police also interrogated him. He is said to be follower of Tableek-e-Jamat (Pakistan). He has many Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Middle-Eastern, Indon-esian and Nepali numbers in his contact list along with six virtual number too,” Mr Kumar revealed. Tableek-e-Jamat has been  banned by several nations due to suspected links to extremism.

Another man, code-named “Guruji”, too is believed to be a part of finance management of this gang. “Higher in pecking order of the gang, he has been identified and will be picked up soon,” Mr Kumar said.

It was found that “Guruji,” who uses Yugoslavian numbers and VPN, recently got Rs 13 lakh from Mustafa through bank transfer in 71 transactions.

Tags: railway protection force, illegal ticketing