‘Matka’ or small scale illegal gambling dens, which have till date been regarded to be fairly low-profile as far as crimes go, are now on the radar of the Mumbai police as part of their ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards street crime. Police officers said the focus was not only on matka dens themselves but on the other crimes that they gave rise to.
“Matka dens, along with drug addicts and chain snatchers, are on our list of targets as they contribute towards city crime. We are going back to basics and starting from the lowest of crimes in order to ensure zero tolerance towards all kinds of street crimes, including the crimes that matka dens give rise to,” Mumbai Police Commissioner, Rakesh Maria said.
Police officers said that there have been numerous cases where gambling addicts who frequent matka dens in their areas have resorted to stealing or committing robberies in order to fuel their addiction.
“People who frequent matka dens are from the lower strata of society and don’t have substantial earnings, and hence they have to resort to crimes like burglaries, pickpocketing and robbery so that they can sell the proceeds of their crimes and bet further,” said a police officer.
Over the last few months, the Mumbai Police’s Social Service Branch (SSB) has been raiding matka dens all over the city, arresting and charging people running the dens under the Gambling Act.
“We have been conducting four to five raids every day, busting matka dens all over the city and penalising people under the Gambling Act. We are aware of the other crimes that such activities give rise to, and aim to make a difference in the incidences of these crimes as well,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Enforcement) Mahesh Patil.
In the first six months of this year, the SSB registered a total of 79 cases against matka dens under the Gambling Act, arresting a total of 634 accused. During the same period last year, the SSB had registered 33 cases and arrested 442 accused in their raids on matka dens.