With cricket fever on the rise, illegal betting centres are sprouting, especially with India making it into the World Cup semi-finals. The police cracked down on one such centre on Thursday night.
Bookie J.P. Agarwal was arrested from an apartment on Bentinck Street, in central Calcutta, while making payments for bets placed on the Kenya-Zimbabwe match. Sleuths stormed the apartment and recovered documents to prove Agarwal was accepting bets on the India-New Zealand match. Police said bets close to Rs 1 crore had been placed on the matches.
The sleuths also recovered several sheets of paper with figures scribbled on them, cellphones, a computer and Rs 30,000 in cash. Agarwal had a register in his locker, in which he jotted down details of transactions. A scrutiny of the documents indicated that the odds were heavily in favour of Kenya winning against Zimbabwe. Kenya did humble Zimbabwe on Wednesday.
In the India-New Zealand encounter, the money was on India.
Deputy commissioner of police (central) Zulfiquar Hasan said the seizures included the names and telephone numbers of eight members of the Mumbai underworld. “We have the names and telephone numbers of several persons in the city and its neighbouring areas, too, who had placed bets with Agarwal,’’ he said.
A probe team member said the Mumbai crime branch had been sent the names on Friday morning. The Mumbai cops later said the names on Agarwal’s list were “big-time criminals” of Bandra and Worli. Agarwal’s alias with the Mumbai dons is Prakash Kumar Sanghoria.
Asked why the cash haul had been so small, a police officer explained that a bulk of the transactions were made through the “hundi and hawala channels”.
The Burrabazar police also raided Agarwal’s house on Bangur Avenue on Friday morning. However, they would not give out any details, as it could hamper investigations. “We have detained two of his associates and they have agreed to cooperate with us,” an officer said. Agarwal was produced in court on Friday and remanded in police custody till March 19.
Police said Agarwal had agents in New Alipore, Ballygunge, Alipore, Burrabazar, Jorabagan, Howrah and some other areas. “The Mumbai dons fixed the odds and passed them on to Agarwal over the phone and the Internet,” an officer of the Burrabazar thana said. “The odds were then handed over to the agents who, in turn, contacted persons willing to place bets.’’
It was the second crackdown on bookies in a month. Earlier, the cops were embroiled in a controversy after a bookie detained for questioning, Arun Lakhotia, died in a private nursing home. Lakhotia’s wife, Sadhna, has filed a case that her husband had been tortured for information.