IITian, arrested for 'Tatkal' booking app, wants to help IRCTC
Earlier last month, the Railway Police Force had arrested a software developer from his home in Tirupur, Tamil Nadu, for creating two railway ticketing applications. S. Yuvarajaa, 32, had developed Super Tatkal and Super Tatkal Pro which allow fast booking compared to the infamously inconvenient Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation website. Yuvarajaa now says that he wants to help make the website better.
Yuvarajaa, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, was arrested on October 23 from his Tirupur home. He was arrested under the Indian Railways Act 1989 for the "unauthorized business of procuring and supplying railway tickets." Yuvarajaa spent about a week in jail and railway authorities also deactivated the two apps, which were available on Google Play.
Yuvarajaa told HuffPost, "I want them to talk to me and find out how the apps can help IRCTC's ticket-booking operations." "I might have been naive and unaware of consequences when I developed the apps but I had the best of intentions," he said, "I would like to help them make their website better so that end-users, the passengers, can book tickets easily."
Reportedly, Yuvarajaa hails from a family of farmers. His father worked as a farmer till 2008 when he died while his mother still cultivates the family's land. He first started programming in BASIC at age 11 and developed a love for coding. He enrolled for an aeronautical engineering course at the Madras Institute of Technology in 2007 and joined IIT-Kharagpur for his Masters.
Thereupon, Yuvarajaa worked in Bengaluru, shuttling between the "Silicon Valley of India" and his hometown. It was then that he realized the IRCTC was terribly slow. He launched Super Tatkal in 2016, which allowed users to pre-fill their journey details and paste these onto the IRCTC website. The app was free for the first year and later introduced in-app purchases.
According to the Railway Police, Yuvarajaa earned roughly Rs. 20 lakh through the apps between 2016 and 2020. Yuvarajaa told HuffPost that his users were aware of the payment model and that he did not cheat anyone. In 2019, he launched Super Tatkal Pro, which allowed booking on IRCTC's rail connect app. The IRCTC said that the apps were used illegally to book tickets.
The software developed was used illegally to book tkts through the tickets denying genuine users.Use of illegal software is prohibited under Rly act. No faster app as these features were available with IRCTC which were disabled to ensure level playing field .— IRCTC (@IRCTCofficial) November 17, 2020
An RPF official told HuffPost that Yuvarajaa's mistake was that he "did not obtain the needed permission from IRCTC." Those who help passengers to book tickets are required to register with the IRCTC as an agent. Yuvarajaa said he "was not aware that the app would be considered illegal," arguing that the IRCTC could have sent him a warning or a cease-and-desist order.