Hyderabad: 35-year-old Manoj Kumar, a resident of Old Shah Inayath Gunj, runs a small textile shop in the city. He prefers the cricket season over the festival season, because of the amount of revenue he earns by the end of it. However, his money-making is not through the legal route; he is a seasoned cricket bookie in Hyderabad. Kumar has been arrested three times in the past for running a betting racket, for assaulting a man, and for the illegal possession of a weapon. He has been arrested by the Task Force yet again, for organising betting.
There are many others like Kumar in Hyderabad, living in apartments in the city, in farm houses in the suburbs and even in pan shops, cricket betting is everywhere; and bookies are cashing in on the ongoing Indian Premier League. The police has arrested over 35 organisers, including three repeat offenders, within the span of two weeks, and have seized several lakhs of rupees. Most of the arrested bookies have been in the business for years; they know how to expand their network of punters using technology and manpower. Some of them even possess weapons to intimidate punters in case of a dispute.
The police says that Hyderabad is the hot spot for betting this year. It has become the hub for interstate rackets because the final match is scheduled to be held at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium. When police started tracking down offenders, they began changing their locations in an attempt to evade the police. “We had made an attempt to track down old bookies in Hyderabad; however, most of them have changed their residences,” said an official from the Commissioner’s Task Force.
Many major bookies keep moving between Hyderabad and other cities. “Some of them move between Hyderabad and Mumbai, or Hyderabad and Rajasthan to interact with them,” said DCP B. Limba Reddy from the Task Force.
Though the bookies in Hyderabad have tried to be extremely careful, and have used different techniques to avoid the police, inside information has helped the police track them down....