Nagpur: The Second Capital of the State is witnessing a growing threat from cricket bookies, with an estimated 1,000 operating in the city, although precise figures remain elusive. Among them, approximately 15 major bookies handle bets worth crores, while smaller bookies have established their presence in every nook and corner.
Disturbingly, individuals who were once punters have now turned to cheating people by becoming cricket bookies themselves. The epicentre of this underground activity is concentrated in areas such as Lakadganj, Jaripatka, Khamla, Wardhaman Nagar, and Itwari, primarily in South Nagpur.
Prominent names among the bookies include Gul Jaripatka, Pankaj Kadi, Satish, Akash Battery, Sonu Kamathi, Firoz Haddi, Siroj Mahal, Chintu Chugh, Kake Pachpaoli, Khamla Candy, Satish, Golu Khamla, Mayur Chhaprunagar, Guddu, Raju Chuva Chhapru Nagar, Siraj Lottery, Munna Tiwari, Shailesh, Swapnil, Vilas Patil, Rinku,Ramu, Chhotu, Aggarwal Company, Murari, Aslam, Pappu Panse, Zade, Nitesh Waghmare Kirana, Paresh Sadrani, Jaggu Sewani, Sumit Moryani, Vishal Tanna, Bhavesh Srimankar, Balu Khanna, Bablu Jain, Raju Jain Itwari, Goma Itwari, Nilesh Tapase, and many others in accepting bets.
Apart from Wardhaman Nagar, Chhapru Chowk, Ambedkar Chowk, and other areas falling under the jurisdiction of the Lakadganj Police Station, cricket bookies have also infiltrated multiple locations within the Jaripatka Police Station area.
The sight of individuals like Pankaj Kadi and others amassing wealth within a short period has enticed many youths to venture into this illegal business. Consequently, numerous respected members of the Jaripatka community express their distress over the rapid deterioration caused by this enterprise.
During the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches, groups of youths can be found congregating everywhere, accompanied by the incessant chants of “Khaya Laga” (a phrase associated with betting) resonating from local beer bars. Given the circumstances, it is imperative for the police to launch a decisive crackdown on these cricket bookies.
Suspicion arises due to the unpredictable nature of several IPL matches, prompting questions about the possible involvement of match-fixing gangs. Tragically, a number of individuals in the city have resorted to suicide after losing everything in cricket betting. These distressing incidents have been occurring consistently for several years. In addition to suicides, there have been reports of assault and even kidnappings aimed at recovering lost betting amounts. A young man from Hansapuri has recently gone missing after gambling away over Rs 40 lakh in cricket betting.
Residents of Chhapru Lok area lament that a local paan shop has gained notoriety as a hub for cricket bookies and punters since the inception of the IPL. Adjacent to the location where Khiten Waghwani tragically ended his life, reports suggest that the paan shop attracts gatherings of cricket bookies. Within this crowd, various antisocial elements exert pressure on punters for debt recovery. The pervasive fear among young individuals, forced to take drastic measures like suicide, underscores the urgent need for intervention.