| A file picture of an online lottery being launched
Gangtok, Aug. 13: In a first of its kind incident in Sikkim, eight masked men raided the office of the directorate of lotteries to manipulate the draw of an online two-digit game that was in progress.
The incident occurred in Baluakhani, 2 km from here, on Friday night. The last draw for the two-digit lottery, Rajshri, was on at one of the rooms of the directorate office, when the men walked in with their faces covered.
Police, however, were informed about the intrusion only yesterday, probably after officials of the directorate realised the gravity of the situation.
The superintendent of police (East), M.S. Tuli, said the incident occurred around 9 pm just when the draw was about to go online. The hooded men tried to force P.L. Sharma, the judge present, to sign on a paper, suspected to be a forged draw sheet.
According to the police, the group wanted to register the two numbers, which they had chosen as the winning combination for the last draw of the day.
But Sharma, a senior official of the state human resource development department, refused despite the verbal threats. The men did not resort to any physical coercion, though they spent 30 minutes trying to talk him into it.
Sharma, in his turn, tried to tell the group that their coercion would be of no use, as the winning combination would not have any validity unless the director of state lotteries put his signature on the paper.
“They (the masked men) told him that they had information that the lottery companies in the state were on a looting spree,” one of the officials present in the room recalled having heard.
“They told the judge that it was only the state government and the lottery companies who were gaining by the lottery while the common people were drowning their hard-earned money in this craze,” he added.
The officials said probably the youths wanted to forcibly post the winning number online, and then collect the prize money from a booth where they had placed the bets.
The Sadar police station has started a case against the unknown men who have been charged with rioting, criminal trespass, forgery and intimidation.
The police hope that footage recorded by closed-circuit surveillance cameras will help them track down the culprits.
Sources said there was but one home guard posted at the entrance to the building which houses the officeof the lotteries’ directorate, when the raid took place.