India Conducted Anti-Gambling Raids Ahead of Diwali

Anti-gambling raids across India resulted in multiple arrests, in an attempt to limit the rise of Covid-19 cases during the Diwali Festival of Lights, which started on Sunday.

Indian Police Raid Multiple Gambling Sites

The Guwahati police arrested 30 gamblers in an anti-gambling operation in the Nagaon, Dhubri, and Kamrup districts over the weekend, just before the beginning of Diwali, the five-day-long Festival of Lights which started on November 14.

On Saturday, local authorities arrested 6 players in the Chaygaon area of Kamrup and two from Palashbari.

Guwahati commissioner of police Munna Prasad Gupta said that multiple anti-gambling drives were planned in Guwahati, the largest city in Assam state, northeastern India. While gambling and betting activities are often on the rise during Diwali, police officers “have been instructed to keep strict vigilance at all vulnerable points and hotels where gambling is usually conducted.”

The local government has asked police to lead multiple search operations over the past ten days, Deputy inspector general of police (DIG), Western Range, Bongaigaon Devojyoti Mukherjee, said. Fifteen gamblers were arrested during said operations conducted in various areas of Assam’s major locations: Bongaigaon, Dhubri, Barpeta, and Goalpara. More than 22 gambling sites were pinned down and evicted, the DIG added.

Gambling Activities Could Lead to A Rise in Coronavirus Cases

Gambling activities are not allowed without the involvement of the police, locals said, especially as most sites involve small crowded rooms, where players and watchers do not respect social distancing measures. 

NGO Save Guwahati Build Guwahati (SGBG) General Secretary Kailash Sarma called for the local population to avoid going out during Diwali, as doing so could lead to an increase in positive Covid-19 cases. “Gambling is a social menace and people should avoid it amidst the pandemic,” he added.

The Assam administration should focus on public awareness and protect the poor population, who has been the most affected by the economic impact of the pandemic.

Politics and Police Officers Arrested During Raids

Over a hundred gamblers were arrested across India, reports suggest.

On November 13 in Ludhiana, Salem Tabri police arrested 6 gamblers and recovered Rs 1.27 lakh (about $1,700)  in cash from a gambling den. Following a tip-off suggesting a major gambling ring at Talwinder factory in Guru Nanak Pura, police conducted a raid that led to the arrests. Suspects fled from the scene, but the authorities have launched various investigations to find the gamblers.

In Dharwad, 65 suspects, including political figures, businessmen, and hotel owners, were arrested during the raids of 18 gambling sites. Rs 49 lakh ($65,000), 34 vehicles, and 66 mobile phones were seized at the locations.

Four local police officers were found among the gamblers, despite warnings from the police department to not gamble during Diwali, and have been suspended. Police were tipped off that people were playing three-cards and Andar Bahar, one of India’s most popular gambling games.

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