BENGALURU: The lottery scandal rocking the political and police establishments in Karnataka has been thriving for at least five years. A senior IPS officer Alok Kumar, who was the additional commissioner (Bengaluru West division), has been suspended for his links with one of the kingpins Pari Rajan while the needle of suspicion also pointed at both Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Home Minister K J George.
Kumar is the second police officer to be suspended after Superintendent of Police (Lottery and Excise) Dharnesh last week. The government also abolished the lottery and excise wing.
The interim report of the CID had mentioned close links between Rajan and senior police officials. They had prepared a list of 24 officers to be summoned for questioning for their alleged links with the operator.
Fearing a backlash from the public ahead of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike elections and to save the government’s image, the CM decided to handover the case to CBI. Sources said that he did it after reconfirming that none from his Cabinet were involved in the racket. “Let the truth come out. My government has nothing to hide or lose,” said Siddaramaiah. The national turnover over of the racket is around Rs 7,000 crore while it is said to be around Rs 2,000 crore in Karnataka. KPCC president G Parameshwara said that the scam is bigger than the fake stamp paper racket, while George admitted it is spread in more than one state.
Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy brought the existence of such a racket to government’s notice through a letter he wrote to Siddaramaiah and George in 2013. During his tenure, Kumaraswamy banned all forms of lotteries in 2007.
Siddaramaiah says that illegal lotteries and matka have been thriving from the day the lottery was banned. “Our government at least initiated action and arrested the people involved besides suspending a IGP rank ed IPS officer,’’ he says denying Kumaraswamy’s charges that he had turned a blind eye letting the scam thrive.
Police say that a Chennai- based Martin is the national lottery king while Michael was his Karnataka operative. Rajan was working for them.
P Ravindranath, Inspector-General of Police (Lottery and Excise Wing) in 2010, had supervised a probe and got Michael arrested in 2010. Junior officers, however, told Ravindranath that Michael had quit the racket and was in real estate business. Michael was in police net in 2009 too, but was let off.
Policemen allegedly got regular cuts, but the biggest share went to politicians. After raiding lottery dens in Ramanagaram and Kanakapura taluks, in Bengaluru Rural district, Ravindranath had opened a modus operandi card for Michael in 2013. Michael was again booked under Section 110 of the CrPC, for dealing with dangerous criminals. While the trial was on, he was released on bail.
Kumaraswamy has claimed that a Rs 100 crore deal that went awry led to the arrest of Rajan. Martin’s representatives, with the help of a recently elected MLC, met the son of a political leader in key position, he alleged. “The son demanded Rs 100 crore to hush up the case following a sting operation in a news channel. Martin, however, agreed to give only Rs 10 crore,” Kumaraswamy alleged while refusing to divulge the names of the MLC and the son of the political leader who is believed to have negotiated the deal.
Though he didn’t name the MLC, he gave enough indications that it was H M Revanna, a close aide of Siddaramaiah. Political circles are abuzz with rumours that it was Rakesh, son of Siddaramaiah who met the lottery racketeers through Revanna, a charge that Siddaramaiah has vehemently denied.
Kumaraswamy claimed that Dharnesh and Rajan met a minister and settled a deal. Here again, the former CM didn’t name the minister but dropped hints that it is PWD Minister HC Mahadevappa, another close aide of Siddaramaiah.
Kumaraswamy alleged that senior police officers Arun Chakravarthy (IGP Central Range) and Sunil Agarwal (IGP North East) who were earlier heading the excise and lottery wing have also taken money from Rajan and Martin. Agarwal, however, said that there was no need to respond to totally baseless allegations.
Claiming that the lottery racket was exposed following differences over sharing the booty, Kumaraswamy said that differences between Rajan and a civil constable Manjunath in Kolar Gold Fields (KGF), a year ago, led to the lottery squad in KGF being tipped off. Ramappa Guttedar posted as sub inspector in the excise and lottery wing in KGF then summoned Rajan for interrogation, he said. “Rajan promised the sub inspector that he would do everything if he remained silent. Following this, one head constable Singh and constable Manjunath went to Chennai and struck a deal for Rs 40 lakh with Martin,” he alleged. Of this, Rs 5 lakh was given to two constables, Rs 5 lakh to the sub inspector and the remaining Rs 15 lakh each was shared by SP Dharnesh and the then IGPs of excise and lottery wing.
“The constables were disappointed at getting lesser share and got in touch with SP Chandrakanth of Kolar. Following this, Chandrakanth tried to get a posting as SP (south lottery wing. When that did not happen, Chandrakanth facilitated the sting by a private news channel,” Kumaraswamy alleged.
How the game Works
■ Seventeen states have banned lotteries, but some north-eastern states continue printing tickets and running the business.
■ In the single-digit version, run by private parties, a number and series are written on a slip and handed to the customer. No name of a person or agency is printed on the slip.
■ If the last digit matches the result, the customer gets double the money he has put in. If five digits are correct, he gets 80 times the stake.
■ Most people bet small amounts. The stakes range from `5 to `5,000.
■ The results are announced through SMS, and in some places, like Tumakuru, they are received through post or courier.
■ A Telugu daily used to publish results regularly, but that was stopped by the police.