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Central agencies set their eyes on Mahadev App

People are still in disbelief that three boys – Saurabh Chandrakar, Ravi Uppal and Atul Agrawal – from Bhilai and Raigarh are the masterminds of a nationwide online gambling network.

Ajay Bhan Singh | Raipur |

The Central agencies including the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income Tax Department (IT) who are burning midnight oil in Chhattisgarh to trace the flow and origin of illicit money and graft in government offices but were oblivious of the burgeoning tentacles of online betting, have now fixed their eyes on Mahadev App and its nexus which can be one of their biggest catches.

The crackdown of Chhattisgarh Police on the local network of Mahadev App and Reddy Anna app appears to be a sham as all those who have been nabbed by the police are ground operatives with little or no connection with the masterminds. However, despite half-hearted police action against the bookies, the action ensured a long trail of startling revelations hitherto unimaginable in Chhattisgarh.

ED sleuths, who have been camping in the state for nearly a month now, appear to have fixed their eyes on the alarming spread of the Reddy Anna and Mahadev book network in Chhattisgarh and other parts of India. Controlled and conceptualized by a group of local youths, both the online betting platforms reportedly generate illegal money to the tune of Rs 250-300 crore per month.

People are still in disbelief that three boys Saurabh Chandrakar, Ravi Uppal and Atul Agrawal from Bhilai and Raigarh are the masterminds of nationwide online gambling network which encourage betting money on cricket, horse-race, elections, football and other mega events.

As per the information available with the police and independent sources, Mahadev app was registered in Dubai in 2016 and allegedly has links with fugitive mafia don Dawood Ibrahim. The group pays Rs 100 crore per month as protection money to D-Company, a highly placed source claimed. Links with global mafia and terror group D-Company, therefore, makes it a perfect case for the probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Moreover, Mahadev and Reddy Anna apps have a vast network in Naxal infested Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Telangana, Andhra, and Madhya Pradesh. Hence the possibility of Maoists routing illegal money through this nexus cannot be denied, a senior police official said.

The Chhattisgarh government claims that its hands are tied as there is no comprehensive law dealing with organised online betting. Those booked under existing gambling laws easily skipped the punitive action.

The ED has reportedly sought details of this cartel which is believed to be operated from Dubai. Nonetheless, ED sleuths also need to be mindful of the reports that kingpin Ravi and Saurabh have been relentlessly working on their plan to flee either to the USA or to any other tax-haven country around March-April, where citizenship provisions are relaxed. One of their aides Atul is already residing in Dubai. One of the kingpins who had a meeting with a city-based scribe in Indore recently, divulged their plans to flee from India

Modus operandi and history of the two apps run by this cartel is astounding. The betting is done online whereas the money is routed through one thousand corporate bank accounts with each account having a monthly transaction limit up to Rs 1 crore.

The money is collected in the bank accounts of defunct industries and sent to Dubai through the hawala network. Initially when the promoters did not have access to such a large number of corporate bank accounts, they used to hire savings and current accounts, police investigations revealed.

Started in 2016 by Saurabh, Ravi, and Atul, Mahadev app gained 12 lakh users within three years but their user-base crossed 50 lakh mark after they acquired Hyderabad based Reddy Anna for Rs 1,000 crore in 2020. The group claims a monthly turnover of around Rs 300 crore.

However, such a vast network of bookies and huge transactions cannot operate uninterrupted without political patronage. Police probe in the case so far has ignored the alleged role of police officials and politicians who have patronised the network in all these years.

The issue grabbed public attention for the first time when police zeroed in on around 80 influential people who had attended a gala party thrown by the kingpin of Mahadev book in Dubai recently.