Gang lured college students into online cricket betting and then extorted them

Racket operational since September, when IPL matches began, was busted when investigating a plaint filed by a college kid

For the first the crime branch has busted a racket in the city, wherein college students were lured into online cricket betting, offering huge returns. Investigations have unravelled the involvement of a notorious gangster – Sachin Pote – in the crime. It was found that this syndicate has been in operation in the city since September last year, with most of the bets being laid on the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches, with the losers being extorted for money, the crime branch officers said.

The investigations were triggered by a complaint filed by a college student, Umesh Mulchandani (23), a resident of Viman Nagar, based on which the cops arrested Gaurav Ahuja, a 20-year-old college student and Ajay Shinde (36), who happens to be the son of a police constable and yet a known criminal. They are residents of Shukrawar Peth and Khadak police colony, respectively. Pote, one of the city’s top 10 gangsters, who was the main brain behind the racket, has absconded. The trio were found to be working as partners, targeting college students.

Mulchandani filed his complaint at the Vimantal police station, after he was accosted by Ahuja and Shinde on February 9, when he was dinning out with his friends. The duo intimidated him as a warning to his friend, one Rajat Grover, who’d lost a bet and apparently owed them Rs 2.5 lakh. Though Mulchandani was not involved in the transaction, they threatened to kill him and his family if they did not get the money.

While Pote (L) is absconding, Ahuja (centre) and Shinde (R) have been arrested

Investigating the case, the cops uncovered the operations of the syndicate. During their probe the police have recovered mobile phone recordings of the accused threatening the complainant and extorting money. The investigation report submitted by the crime branch police sub-inspector, Shashikant Shinde, stated, “The gang lured students into betting. Subsequently Ajay Shinde and Sachin Pote stepped to threaten the students and recover the money.”

Post-investigation the police booked the trio (including Pote) under sections 387 (extortion) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act. Sachin Pote has about 10 cases of murder, attempt to murder, theft and extortion, registered against him. In fact, he is presently out on bail. Likewise, Shinde has seven serious offences registered against him in various police stations.

Ahuja was represented by advocates Seoul Shah and Abid Mulani at the hearing. Mulani insisted, “The police did not issue any notice as required under section 41 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and thereby failed to follow Supreme Court guidelines for arresting a person.” The lawyers prayed for bail for Ahuja.

However, arguing against it, crime branch sub-inspector Shinde, pointed out, “Our report has clearly stated that the accused — Gaurav Ahuja — would purchase IDs on and worked in partnership (with the criminals). Investigation revealed that the gang is also engaged in online gambling rackets. Custodial interrogation is needed to investigate in detail. The accused is just 20 years old, so there must be a bigger financier behind this game.”

The court granted five-day police custody to both the arrested accused.

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