Gujarat connection raises concerns

Gujarat connection  raises concerns

While the arrest of bookies in connection with the IPL spot-fixing racket has shocked the nation and arrests have taken place in Mumbai, it is the Gujarat connection of the betting web that is raising concerns now.

Though the face of betting operations is Mumbai, Gujarat for long has been the hinterland for these activities.

“It was a highly politically connected family from Jamnagar that used to control operations of Worli matka across Saurashtra,” a source said, adding that organised betting syndicates had even penetrated into forward trading of groundnut oil which used to operate from Dhoraji in Saurashtra in the eighties.

Officials point out that with the matka betting dwindling out, it soon got linked to cricket in a big way.

However, it was in the late nineties when Dinesh Kalgi moved into the betting operation in Ahmedabad and gradually went on to become the king of betting in Gujarat.

It is learnt that while he started operations alone, he later recruited people and built a network which many allege has links with Dawood Ibrahim.

Kalgi has consistently denied the allegation and maintains that his operations are purely domestic. While Kalgi has been operating from Ahmedabad, a top police officer said that the network has over the years spread to rural areas.

“Unlike yesteryears, when one had to personally meet the bookie, operations today are carried out over mobile phones and internet,” the officer said, adding that most of the active bookies have chosen to operate from rural Gujarat, particularly in pockets of north Gujarat, Saurashtra and south Gujarat.

A source connected with the betting circuit said one needs to be initiated to the circuit through someone who is already involved in betting. Much of the betting is carried out online as well, the source added.

A  large chunk of the betting network in the state is currently handled by Kalgi, who is out on bail, says another source. Kalgi, also known as the satta king of Gujarat, used to run a resort in Ahmedabad which was raided in 2012. According to the police, the resort at Paldi area of Ahmedabad  was essentially a gambling den which later evolved into a meeting point for criminals with links to the underworld.

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