Not a single arrest made since Herald’s expose of gambling dens in Sattari; No bigwig involved questioned; Herald published picture of ex-Congressman Uday Palyekar gambling but Valpoi cops haven’t questioned him
VALPOI: Police are still clueless about the identity of the persons operating gambling dens in Sattari’s forests, even after Herald did the job of the police and exposed the functioning of the dens in the forests of Sattari. Not a single den has been raided or busted and not a single arrest has been made, though Herald had specified names of people involved in the gambling racket.
Herald’s hidden camera had caught the Congress candidate from Siolim in 2012, Uday Palyekar gambling in one of the dens. Yet Palyekar, a public figure, roams free, in spite of being caught. And not a single arrest has been carried out. Sub Divisional Police Officer DySP Ramesh Gaonkar said that they cannot book the gamblers if they are not caught in the act. He said that if they receive specific information that gambling activities have restarted, they will raid the place and arrest the gamblers. When Herald gave him specific information, he and his police did nothing. Countless amounts of cash changed hands through the night as the police refused to respond to calls from Herald after being informed that the gambling dens of Sattari were really busy.
The statements of the police lack any seriousness. Gaonkar said that patrolling has been intensified after the Herald expose, but this is irrelevant. He said, “A special team has been formed under a police sub-inspector to keep strict watch on illegal gambling activities.”
Valpoi Police Inspector Sanjay Dalvi said that the gambling den operators named in the Herald report are not traceable. “Our attempt to nab these people is on, and strict vigil has been initiated in all areas to control these illegal activities in my jurisdiction,” Dalvi said. That is the only purported assurance from the police since the Herald expose.
Sources in Valpoi said that the den operators have not been seen in Sattari since the Herald report and their whereabouts are not known. Apprehensions have been raised by some concerned citizens that these operators might have started their activities again taking advantage of the dense forest cover.
Dalvi, however, ruled out this possibility saying he has informed the staff at the police station to keep strict vigilance on such activity. Besides, local intelligence has also been gathered by senior police staff to end the activity.
Herald had exposed the existence of the gambling mafia in Sattari’s jungles after a weeklong operation and photographed all four locations. The gambling dens were protected by a political ring and the name of a relative of a top BJP functionary had come up in the investigation, besides that of Palyekar. Sources had said that the turnover of the gambling activity was around Rs 1 crore a night.
There are two major groups that operate and shelter the gambling activity by accepting protection money from the den operators. Both groups see that the dens are not touched by the law enforcing agencies. However, due to internal rivalry, one group’s activity has been stopped and police feel that information has been deliberately leaked to Herald by the other group. The weeklong Herald operation was, however, based on a tip-off from concerned citizens.