Pune rural police suspects Dubai hawala transactions being carried out through Mahadev betting app - Hindustan Times
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Pune rural police suspects Dubai hawala transactions being carried out through Mahadev betting app

May 18, 2024 06:44 AM IST

Till date, the police have arrested 93 persons and detained three minors for their involvement in the scam however the search for two other prime accused is underway, the officials said

The Pune rural police on Friday said that they suspect Dubai hawala transactions were being carried out from Pune district through the Mahadev betting app – an online platform found being used for illegal gambling on games such as poker, cricket and football. Till date, the police have arrested 93 persons and detained three minors for their involvement in the scam however the search for two other prime accused is underway, the officials said.

At a press conference on Friday, the Pune rural police confirmed that during a May 15 raid, a three-storeyed building in Narayan Gaon, they arrested 93 individuals and detained three minors. (REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)
At a press conference on Friday, the Pune rural police confirmed that during a May 15 raid, a three-storeyed building in Narayan Gaon, they arrested 93 individuals and detained three minors. (REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)

At a press conference on Friday, the Pune rural police confirmed that during a May 15 raid, a three-storeyed building in Narayan Gaon, they arrested 93 individuals and detained three minors. The police seized 45 laptops, 89 mobiles, 101 mobiles used by the accused, 452 bank passbooks, cheque books, and other material totalling 62.74 lakh. Eighty-eight of the accused, who were working as employees at the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)-like setup, were remanded to magisterial custody.

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Whereas the prime accused identified as Kunal Sunil Bhat, 28, from Jalgaon; Sameer Yunus Pathan, 25, from Junnar; Rashid Kamal Sharif Pulla, 28, from Uttar Pradesh; Amjad Khan Sardan Khan, 32, also from Uttar Pradesh; and Yash Rajendra Singh Chauhan, 27, from Rajasthan have been remanded to police custody till May 20. However, the search for two other prime accused - Hritik Suresh Kothari and Raj Bokariya – is underway.

Pankaj Deshmukh, superintendent of police for Pune district, said, “The five arrested accused were working as managers at the BPO unit and they lured the other accused who were mostly working as employees. However, the search for two other prime accused is going on.”

A senior police officer from the Pune police department said, “During the investigation, it was revealed that Bhat and the others visited Dubai multiple times. The police suspect that they might have been involved in hawala transactions and hence, we have demanded their police custody to get more information from them.”

The police said that the accused were involved in illicit operations under the guise of the call centre. Individuals from different states were lured with prospects of a good salary and hired as employees. However, the police investigation revealed that many of the employees were trapped as their salaries of two to three months had not been paid.

Earlier, an investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) busted a huge illegal gambling operation being run through the Mahadev betting app. People could bet on many different games such as poker, cards, cricket, badminton, tennis and even the Indian Lok Sabha elections. There were games like Teen Patti, poker and ‘Dragon Tiger’ and even virtual cricket matches. The online platform was used to fix matches, launder money using cryptocurrency, and ensure that the people running the racket kept making money even as the players lost. Not only were websites and private chat groups run under the guise of the app, people were actively enticed into illegal betting. The ED investigation went so far as to question politicians and Bollywood celebrities regarding their alleged involvement in the scam.

Meanwhile, a case has been registered at the Narayan Gaon police station under sections 420, 464, 465, 467, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC); sections 4 and 5 of the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act 1887; and sections 66 C of the Information Technology Act; and the local crime branch is conducting further investigations.

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