In a major breakthrough, a Varanasi crime branch team arrested Mahendra Singh - the self-proclaimed 'father' of cricket betting in the temple town - and his three accomplices from Bulanala area on Wednesday.
The others arrested were identified as Shiv Sharan Awasthi of Kotwali, Pradeep Goswami of Sigra and Anil Gupta of Kerakat Jaunpur.
While the police recovered Rs 14.7 lakh cash, seven desktops, eight mobile phones and other electronic items, around 15 persons managed to escape during the raid.
Singh was on the run since his name cropped up during interrogation of a small gang of bookies on April 3.
The police had announced an award of Rs 5000 on him.
According to the police, Mahendra was brought into the business by a person named Manoj Katiyar of Kanpur. He reported to Bunty, the bookie arrested by the Delhi police recently in connection to the spot-fixing case.
Mahendra confessed to the police that the T-20 league betting business in Varanasi was carried out with the help of bookies like Jasan Bidlani of Bikaner, Sukhdev Chayal of Alwar and others from Ghaziabad, Delhi, Kanpur and Mumbai.
Superintendent of police (Crime) Kamlesh Dixit said Mahendra was planning to wrap up his business in the city and move to Nepal for the time being. Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Ajay Kumar Mishra said many others involved in the betting business have fled the city.
The police claimed the betting business was being operated in Varanasi under the patronage of some of the big players named in the recent spot fixing case.
Investigation revealed that besides having two offices in Bulanala and Kuber Complex in Rathyatra area, the betting mastermind also operated from centres in Kalkaji, New Delhi and Borivali, Mumbai.
Similarly, a betting centre was being constructed in Haryana's Hisar and UP's Gorakhpur, the police claimed.
"The offices were opened in the form of cyber cafes, gaming parlours or other online service providing agencies," said the police.
Earlier, on May 25, a day before the twenty-20 league final, the crime branch had nabbed 11 bookies of an inter-state betting racket.