Like an astute businessman who employs all means at his disposal to control the course of trade, police investigations have revealed that underworld don Dawood Ibrahim allegedly masterminds, sitting far away, the entire operation behind the illicit bookmaking business in India through a wide network of conduits and bookies. The don himself makes huge investments in this murky trade, knowing full well that it would bring him handsome profits.

Based on the evidence gathered so far, the police have now obtained non-bailable warrants against Dawood and his close aide Chhota Shakeel. Both run the bookmaking and spot-fixing rackets from Pakistan and Dubai through their conduits, as earlier disclosed by the Special Cell. Two of their confidants have been identified as Dr. Javed Chutani and Salman.

“Chutani shuttles between Karachi and Dubai. Investigations have indicated that he primarily oversees Dawood’s real-estate business in the United Arab Emirates along with the other D-Company members. We have his call intercepts, one of which is quite revealing. That particular conversation, which originated from India, is prima facie enough to establish his association with D-Company,” said a senior police officer.

The names of Chutani and Salman also figured during the purported revelations made by top bookies Ramesh Vyas, Ashwini Aggrawal alias Tinku Mandi and Feroze Ansari. “Although we are yet to ascertain since when Chutani has been working for Dawood, the bookies disclosed that they knew him for the past five years. They have met him in person during their several visits to Dubai in the past. We have also learnt that Dawood himself invests in the betting business,” said the officer.

Reconstructing the chain, the police have discovered that it is none other than the top fugitive marketmaker who opens up the betting rates for the bookies operating under his protection, for each cricket match. “The rates are conveyed to the conduits who forward them to the bookies in India. The rates then travel down to sub-bookies and punters.”

The investigators believe that Dawood sets the rates in such a calculated fashion that during the initial phase of the match, he is bound to make profits. By the time the complex market dynamics take over the situation and the rates start changing as the match progresses, he pulls out of the game, minimising his losses. The punters and sub-bookies remain oblivious of such a design.

“The illegal money is invested through bookies and the profit so generated is passed on to the don’s conduits through the hawala channels. Some of the bookies — Ramesh Vyas, Kothari and Pluto from Mumbai; Mandi, Sandeep Jain and Dinesh from Delhi; and Lokesh from Gurgaon — also managed such channels at the instance of their handlers,” said another officer.

During interrogation, Feroze has purportedly disclosed that he managed the betting-cum-hawala operations prior to Ramesh Vyas. He was arrested in a betting case in Mumbai last year. “Alleged bookie Sunil Bhatia [Nagpur] was also in contact with Chutani through Mandi,” said the officer, adding that further investigations were under way to gather more evidence of the underworld’s role in the spot-fixing case. The police have so far zeroed in on nearly 100 suspects. “We cannot go on making arrests as the list of bookies would keep growing. Also, those arrested could only be part of one of the several chains operating under the protection of the Dawood gang,” he said.

Interestingly, Feroze and Vyas have withdrawn their bail applications from the court which recently granted police custody for two of the accused under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act. “Accused Deepak and former Rajasthan Royals’ cricketer Ajit Chandila also withdrew their applications on Wednesday and are expected to file the same on July 1,” said the officer.

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