The Goa Police Crime Branch has filed an FIR against Goa politicians, police officials, two newspapers, and over 1,100 matka gambling bookies and masterminds of a gambling operation based in Gujarat.
The First Information Report (FIR) has been filed on the directions of the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court, following a petition filed by activist Kashinath Shetye and four other petitioners.
Shetye had pleaded that police should probe the nexus between police, politicians and the operators of matka gambling, an illegal but popular form of lottery played across Goa.
Matka gambling has gained immense popularity in Mumbai and Konkan region since the 1970s. It functions six days a week, like a lottery, where lucky numbers are generated twice daily.
Matka’s popularity stems from the fact that one can wager a bet of even Re.1. The matka industry in Goa alone is pegged at several thousand crores of rupees.
Over the last few years, several legislators have demanded that matka gambling be legalised, arguing that it could help the government earn additional revenue.
According to police estimates, the annual turnover of the matka gambling industry in the three states of Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat is around Rs.10,000 crore.
The petitioner had also argued that matka gambling was a regular source of extortion for police, who had allowed the gambling to proliferate in the state.
The crime branch has now filed the FIR against a politician named Kiran, an unnamed minister, other politicians, two newspapers and police officials, apart from matka gambling operators based in Gujarat, from where the operation is controlled.
The FIR also names a matka gambling operator named Parekh alias ‘Budo’ from Goa, 1,100 matka bookies and two local newspapers that used to carry results of the matka lottery, which the petitioner claimed was against the law.
The crime branch has been directed by the high court to file a status report on the action taken against the gambling operations every six months.