19 Nov 2020: IITian arrested for 'Tatkal' booking app wants to help IRCTC
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.
Arrest: Yuvarajaa arrested for 'unauthorized business of procuring/supplying railway tickets'
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.
Quote: 'I would like to help them make their website better'
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."
Backstory: Yuvarajaa picked up coding early; graduated MIT-Chennai, IIT-Kgp
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.
Apps: After using IRCTC, he decided to launch Super Tatkal
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 prefill their journey details and paste these onto the IRCTC website.
The app was free for the first year and later introduced in-app purchases.
Apps: Railway Police says Yuvarajaa earned Rs. 20 lakh through apps
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.
Fact: Here's what the IRCTC said
Issues: He didn't obtain required permissions from IRCTC: Official
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.