The Mumbai police crime branch is busy finalising an elaborate strategy to keep tabs on bookmaking syndicates during the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup. Knowing full well that bookies will stop at nothing to dodge surveillance, the police have made preparations accordingly.
Joint commissioner of police, crime, Himanshu Roy, told HT that apart from the traditional surveillance and interceptions, the police would also be trawling cyber space.
Roy said the crime branch has already prepared a list of websites that traditionally indulge in online betting during cricket matches. The cyber police have already activated intelligence about the sites coming up during the world cup and are waiting for them to be uploaded.
“Most of these sites are up-linked from abroad. But, if bets are placed from here (Mumbai) we can initiate action against them as the city becomes the place of offence,” Roy said.
The police move is driven by the fact that payments to these betting sites are often made through hawala. “Their entire (monetary) exchange trail is dubious and illegal,” Roy said while raising fears that many of these sites could have been uplinked and run by underworld elements who have an elaborate hawala network in place to collect and distribute bets in the city.
“The money could be misused for match-fixing activities too,” a crime branch officer said.
The police are planning to block these sites by writing to the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) in New Delhi, which is the sole watchdog for the four internet gateways in the country – MTNL, Vodafone, Airtel and Reliance.