In a matter of four days, the single digit lottery scam has seen several heads rolling in the Karnataka Police. The police have arrested one Pari Rajan among others from Kolar. The heat has engulfed two Superintendents of Police of the anti lottery squad whose nexus had let the illegal lottery business thrive in the state where lottery had been banned in 2007. A stunned Siddharamaiah government was left with no option but to hand over the probe of the interstate lottery racket to the CBI.
¬†It was a fight over sharing of spoils between two Superintendents of Police, Dharanesh and¬† Chandrakanth which blew the lid off the racket. Both the officers working in the Lottery squad were upset that the illegal lottery mafia was not distributing the spoils between them properly. A sting operation by Chandrakanth against Dharanesh with help from a Kannada channel showed Dharanesh spill the beans on the role of other officers in letting the illegal lottery racket thrive.
¬†In the next two days, it was the actions of the Additional Commissioner of Bangalore Police Alok Kumar IPS, preventing a sub-inspector from arresting the main accused, which raised questions about how deeply the lottery business was entrenched in the police department. Karnataka government subsequently placed him under suspension. CID of Karnataka police did not rule out the role of several other bureaucrats and police officers who had turned a blind eye to the illegal lottery racket.
¬†The opposition sensing an opportunity to pin down Siddharamaiah, trained its guns on the government making allegations that the Chief Minister has given his blessing to the racket. Before the opposition could launch an agitation demanding a CBI probe, Siddharamaiah stumped everyone by handing the probe to the CBI.¬† Coming down heavily on the opposition, Siddharamaiah said, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs the opposition which had mocked the CBI with various names and never entrusted any case to the CBI, I have full faith in the state CID but still want the CBI to enquire into the racket from 2007 onwards‚ÄĚ.
¬†The move has put the BJP and the JD(S) under pressure, as now the scanner turns to the role of some their ministers and leaders who had let the racket thrive during their regimes.¬† Sources in the CID say the investigation will throw up several names including that of ‚Äėlottery king‚Äô Santiago Martin who is suspected to be the main brain behind the network created with help from police officials.
¬†The suspended IPS officer, Alok Kumar who has confessed to having proximity to Pari Rajan has been grilled by the CID. The information elicited showed how the senior police officials were kept in good humour by the lottery mafia with gifts and other allurements such as vacations for the families of the officers.
¬†Investigations also revealed that the mastermind Pari Rajan initially befriended the senior police officers by bringing them prasad from Tirupati temple and after building a rapport would make them co-operate with the racket. While the police officers were unable to quantify the volume of illegal lottery traded, conservative estimates from within the department indicate that the racket could be worth more than 200 crores every year in Karnataka alone.