By Arré Bench Nov. 17, 2020
Last month, S Yuvarajaa was arrested by RPF officials from his home in Tamil Nadu for the “unauthorised business of procuring and supplying railway tickets”. His app, Super Tatkal, sped up the booking process considerably, and over the years, it grew to have over one lakh users. However, following Yuvarajaa’s arrest, it was taken down.
Opinion-shapers and policy-makers in India often tend to harp on about how the country can be a global powerhouse in the field of digital innovation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has pushed forth the “Digital India” narrative in many of his speeches. Why then was an innovator in this very field arrested by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) for developing an app that made booking train tickets easier for thousands of Indians? For S Yuvarajaa, an app developer and 32-year-old graduate of IIT-Kharagpur, his attempt to use technology to better people’s lives was met with a firm rebuke from the authorities.
An IITian who passed out of IIT Kharagpur, when he built his rail ticketing apps for Android phones. But it has now landed the app creator in jail.
— The Second Angle (@TheSecondAngle) October 26, 2020
Last month, on 23 October, Yuvarajaa was arrested by RPF officials from his home in Tamil Nadu. The RPF said he was being arrested under the Indian Railways Act 1989 for the “unauthorised business of procuring and supplying railway tickets”. The reason for their punitive action was that in 2016 Yuvarajaa had developed an app called Super Tatkal, and later a variant called Super Tatkal Pro, that acted as an alternative to the Indian Railways’ own app for booking tickets. Using an auto-fill software, Super Tatkal sped up the booking process considerably, and over the years, it grew to have over one lakh users. However, following Yuvarajaa’s arrest, it was taken down.
Railway Ticket Scam: IIT Alumnus Arrested For Developing Fake IRCTC Tatkal Ticket Booking Apps – Super Tatkal and Super Tatkal Pro#RailwayTicketScam #TatkalTicket #IndianRailways #IRCTC #SouthernRailway @GMSRailway @IRCTCofficial https://t.co/OToiOwouEM
— LatestLY (@latestly) October 27, 2020
Yuvarajaa himself is currently out on bail, and is now hoping to work with the Indian Railways to improve their system. “I want them to talk to me and find out how the apps can help IRCTC’s ticket-booking operations. I might have been naïve and unaware of consequences when I developed the apps but I had the best of intentions,” he said in a HuffPost report.
Sad to see that the *IITian* behind the "Super Tatkal" app is arrested. So basically, he got arrested to make a small app which "auto-fill" the HTML form and speed up the tatkal ticket.
The Powers That Be may envision India as a burgeoning digital utopia, but for innovators like Yuvarajaa who could bring the fantasy to life, reality paints a less rosy picture.