The Chhattisgarh police have arrested over 250 people over the past month on allegations that they were operating centres in the state to lure people to indulge in online betting via an online application Mahadev, reported Hindustan Times. Earlier this month, the police arrested 23 people allegedly linked to Mahadev Book.
Police said the online application was launched by a group of people who operate out of Dubai. Chhattisgarh was one of the states where they opened centres in remote areas to lure people to download its app and place bets. Through the official Twitter handle Durg Police said the operators have opened more than 30 bank accounts on fake identities for transacting.
“Many of these bank accounts have been opened in the name of poor people by using their Aadhaar and Pan cards. A person gets ₹5,000 for giving photocopies of the documents to open the bank account,” the officer said.
▪️ विभिन्न बैंकों के 30 से अधिक खातों के माध्यम से किया जा रहा था सट्टे के पैसे का लेन-देन।
▪️ आरोपियों से 26 नग मोबाईल, 02 नग लेपटॉप, 02 नग ब्रॉडबैण्ड, 02 नग लेपटॉप चार्जर, 24 नग एटीएम कार्ड, 23 नग चेकबुक, 03 नग पासबुक, 10 नग मोबाईल सिम बरामद । pic.twitter.com/8dXdm8muQ4
— Durg Police (@PoliceDurg) October 6, 2022
“They opened around 30 centres, mostly in Chhattisgarh, and more than ₹200 crores of transactions happen from each of these centres,” a police officer was quoted by HT, adding that 258 people have been arrested in 25 cases so far. He added the application has close to four million downloads and most bets were in the range of ₹1,000 to 5,000. Police teams in three districts, Raipur, Bhilai and Bilaspur, are investigating cases linked to the online application.
Durg district superintendent of police (SP) Abhishek Pallava said that anyone who wanted to operate a centre or branch of the Mahadev App needed to deposit about ₹20 lakh after which they got the authority to become ‘admins’ for unique IDs given to their customers.
A Chhattisgarh police officer said those who place bets mostly made payments mostly through UPI-based payment systems such as Paytm and Phonepe, which are linked with the several bank accounts of the application operators.
“More than 50 corporate Mahadev bank accounts and more than 10,000 accounts of people who have put bets on apps are under scanner,” said Raipur SP Prashant Agarwal.
Betting and gambling is illegal in India. But offshore gambling websites including Mahadev Book have started operating and advertising in India incessantly since April-May 2021. In June and earlier this month, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) issued an advisory to print, electronic, and digital media to refrain from advertising online betting platforms.