Bengaluru, May 26: Everyone likes to make a quick buck. When lottery was banned in Karnataka in the year 2007, it was a decision that was hailed. However in the background emerged a shady empire which ran the lottery market illegally and today after the same has come to light it has blown into a full fledged scam.
The magnitude of the scam is quite immense and the investigations that have been conducted has reached right up to the top level and only three days back senior IPS officer, Alok Kumar was suspended for playing an alleged role in the scam.
The investigation went deep into the network which was being run by a person called Pari Rajan a resident of Kolar and the Criminal Investigation Department probing the case has found how deep rooted this racket is.
A Rs 100 crore per year business
The probe into the lottery business gained momentum back in September 2013 when the State Excise and Lottery Enforcement Cell busted a single-digit lottery racket operating online and through SMS in Ramanagara.
However due to poor investigation, the government decided to hand over the case of the CID as the ramifications were huge.
The police estimate the scam to be worth Rs 100 crore per annum and is spread across Mysuru, Madikeri, Chamrajnagar, Hubballi Dharwad, Belagavi and Karwar apart from Bengaluru and Kolar.
Placing the bets
The investigations have shown that the bets are placed on a daily basis and the results announced on the same day. The police has found that the lotteries are never printed on paper. Printing a lottery on a paper leads to a trail.
The kingpin operates out of a particular place. He decides on a number and writes them out on chits. The people in turn purchase those chits and if their number is the one announced that day, they are eligible for the cash prize.
In the lottery scam investigations it was found that a lucky number is drawn out by the kingpins and then written on a piece of paper. These chits are handed out at milk booths, cigarette shops, grocery carts and mobile phone shops.
These vendors are paid a good sum of money for announcing the draw at their shops. The police say that this is not restricted to Karnataka alone and the probe reveals that the racket is inter-linked with the states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Kerala.
The kingpin Pari Rajan
Pari Rajan is an important player. He is a resident of Kolar and he started out in the 1990s as a lottery agent. However after lottery was banned in Karnataka he decided that he could continue with the business in an illegal manner. He ensured that he garnered enough support from the police so that he could run this racket.
The manner in which he roped in senior officers is interesting. He knew that every top level officer has his trusted aides in the department working in the lower run. He tapped these persons and regularly sent out money to them.
This ensured that he got in touch with the top level officers who today have been accused of turning a blind eye to Rajan's operations.
Rajan's modus operandi
Investigations have found that Rajan focused on the lottery scam since many years. He had created illegal units which dealt with the business. Apart from writing out the lucky number on a piece of paper and selling them, he also had a website through which these numbers were sold.
He had different types of draws, but the main focus was on single digits. There would be six digits written on the paper and people would bet on each number.
Getting all the six numbers entitled a person for a bumper prize. While the bumper prize fetched Rs 25,000 winning a single digit earned a prize money of Rs 1000.
Rajan just a tip of the ice-berg
Officials in the CID probing the case say that Rajan is just one part of the racket. There is another person by the name Micheal who is his boss. His questioning would be extremely crucial and could lead to the revelation of more names in the racket, the officer said.
The CID is now probing he alleged role played by top IAS officers in this scam. It was found that several officers were in contact with Rajan.
Two days back the Karnataka government placed under suspension senior IAS officer, Alok Kumar. It was alleged that he had tried to stall the arrest of Rajan.
The CID is also looking into the alleged role played by five other senior officers and two retired officials. The opposition parties in Karnataka are now demanding a CBI probe into the scam. They say that the scam has inter-state ramifications and hence needs to be probed by a central agency.