Politicians, policemen named in FIR against matka gambling

Panaji, Oct 13 (IANS) The Goa Police Crime Branch has filed an FIR against Goa politicians, police officials, two newspapers and over 1,100 matka gambling bookies and masterminds of a gambling operation based in Gujarat.

The First Information Report (FIR) was filed on the directions of the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court on Monday, following a petition filed by activist Kashinath Shetye and four other petitioners.

Shetye had pleaded that police should probe the nexus between police, politicians and the operators of matka gambling, an illegal but popular form of lottery played across Goa.

Matka is an illegal form of gambling that has gained immense popularity in Mumbai and Konkan region since the 1970s. It functions six days a week, like a lottery, where lucky numbers are generated twice daily.

Matka’s popularity stems from the fact that one can wager a bet of even Re.1. The matka industry in Goa alone is pegged at several thousand crores of rupees.

Over the last few years, several legislators have demanded that matka gambling should be legalised, arguing that it could help the government earn additional revenue.

According to police estimates, the annual turnover of the matka industry in the three states of Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat is around Rs.10,000 crore.

The petitioner had also argued that matka was a regular source of extortion for police, who had allowed the gambling to proliferate in the state.

The crime branch has now filed the FIR against a politician named Kiran, unnamed minister, other politicians, two newspapers and police officials, apart from matka operators based in Gujarat, from where the gambling operation is controlled.

The FIR also names a matka operator named Parekh alias Budo from Goa, 1,100 matka bookies and two local newspapers which used to carry results of the matka lottery, which the petitioner claimed was against the law.

The crime branch has been directed by the high court to file a status report on the action taken against the gambling operations every six months.

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