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Lottery Business: How Santiago Martin built an illegal empire looting Indians across several states

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By Gaurav Sharma

Fast Draw, Fast Money’–the catchy line of Karnataka state lottery–has enticed and entrapped many young men and women into the intricate web of the lottery mafia.

In a short span of ten years, the lottery netherworld has looted the financial coffers of the Indian citizenry off a whopping Rs 7000 crores, through an entrenched nexus of politicians, scamsters and police officers.

Even after single digit lotteries were banned by the Karnataka state government in 2007, the lottery business spread its tentacles in other parts of the country viz the immediate neighbours of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the north-eastern states.

The Modus Operandi

Investigations into the Karnataka lottery scam have revealed that the lotteries were never printed on paper. Apparently the scammers had the brains to understand that printing would lead to a trail.

This, however, did not stymie the free flow of their business. Bets were placed everyday without fail and their results were announced the very same day.

The mastermind or the kingpin would operate out of a particular place and write numbers on chits. These chits would be distributed via coffee shops, tea booths, cigarette, pan shops and grocery stalls.

The winning number would be announced by the kingpin to the buyers through agents. Due to gambling being an addictive sport, the lottery gamut became an instant hit.

The Kingpin

From being an impoverished labourer in Myanmar to owning an illegal muti-crore business, Santiago Martin is the king who rules the roost of the lottery empire.

Known for his cunning craft, Martin is the epitome of a rags to riches story. After the Karnataka government banned lottery in 2007, Martin smelled the opportunity to make big moolah again.

By using legal loopholes in the form of distinct laws in neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Martin built a network of agents and police officials to expand the already flourishing lottery business.

Martin’s scamming contributions don’t just extend to the southern states. Seven chargesheets have been filed against him, including one for stripping the Sikkim government off a mind-boggling Rs 4500 crore.

According to the CBI, Martin’s firms had sold Rs 4,752 crore worth of tickets in Kerala on behalf of the Sikkim government since 2005, but paid only Rs 143 crore to the northeastern state. Martin is out on bail while the case remains pending.

The Right Hand Man

Pari Ranjan, a resident of Kolar district in Karnataka and a lottery agent associated with Martin Lottery Agencies Ltd since 1995, was a key member of the lottery racket.

Almost, if not more shrewd than Martin, Ranjan was a calculative business-man who knew how to get through people holding important positions in the security framework.

He enticed those at the higher rungs by handing out handsome amounts of money to the rank and file operating at the grassroots. In case officials were hesitant to accept money, he would attract them with expensive gifts, such as scotch and lavish stays at guest houses.

In case all else failed, Ranjan would shower the officer’s family with an all paid trip to Lord Venkateshwara and sumptuous Tirupati ladoos.

Involvement of State officials

The Karnataka government has been embroiled in a huge controversy after it was discovered that top leaders and police officials were involved in the massive Rs 2000 crore lottery scam run by Martin and his crew.

After it came to light that more than 35 police officials, including 6 IPS cadre and 3 retired DGP’s were hand in glove with the scamsters, the controversy snowballed into a conflagration.

Alok Kumar, Additional Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru City, and Dharanesh, a superintendent of police in the now disbanded Excise and Lottery Enforcement Wing, was indicted by the CID for alleged involvement in the scam.

It was revealed that Kumar and several other police officials had talked to Rajan at least 150 times over the past months. In fact, Kumar had known Rajan for as long as 8 years.

Furthermore, Kumar had gone out of his way and warned an inspector against arresting Rajan.

The rot runs deeper

Martin’s connection with influential leaders is well known. DMK leader K Karunanidhi’s cosy relationship with Martin can be understood clearly through the production grant of his ambitious film Ilaignan to Martin.

Not one to restrict his relations to a single party, Martin is believed to have donated Rs 2 crore to the trove of CPI-M through its mouthpiece Deshabhimani.

Martin’s wife Leema Rose, an office bearer of Indiya Jananayaka Kachi, a constituent of the BJP-led NDA in Tamil Nadu, has also shared the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, raising suspicious glances.

Charles Jose Martin, Santigo Martin’s elder son is also a member of the BJP. He had been offered the membership at a small event in New Delhi a few months ago.

Mastermind bypasses State Investigation

Although the case is under CID investigation and Martin’s close aide Rajan has been arrested, no case has been registered against Martin by the Karnataka government.

“No one complains formally (about the illegal lottery racket) because of the fear of Martin and his men”, says Anuj Sharma, DIG and Inspector General of the West Bengal CID.

The reason why Martin escaped unscathed is his well-established networking ability.

He formed excellent relations not only with Southern state leaders but also with states in the Northeast as well as with Bhutan and Nepal, where he was the sole distributor of lotteries.

‘Helpless’ hibernation

An year ago, a truckload of lottery tickets belonging to Assam, Meghalaya, Bhutan, Sikkim among other states was raided. However, police could not go deeper into the case due to lack of availability of the major players.

“Their network is more swift than that of police”, said a source to NewsGram.

Other sources contend that the sleuths meant to raid and arrest lottery agents were doing their duty just for the namesake, booking cases just for the record.

Irrespective of the police inability and detective inefficiency, the real root of the problem is the lack of political drive to take the case head on.

Unless the upper echelons of the lottery business are brought to book, the disease will keep spreading its wings through other aides. To check its mushrooming requires political will.

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Swarna Bharat Party condemns government’s healthcare policy in Karnataka

The privatisation of health policies was opposed by SBP

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Health policies of Karnataka being opposed by SBP
SBP asks government to work on government hospitals rather then privatising them. Facebook
18th November 2017:
Mr Asif Iqbal, Karnataka State coordinator of Swarna Bharat Party (SBP), today strongly opposed the communist, anti-market and anti-people policy of the Congress Karnataka government to cap healthcare charges in the private sector.
Mr Iqbal said that the Siddaramaiah government should start learning basic economics. Good intentions do not necessarily lead to good outcomes. This communist policy will shut down many hospitals and drive away thousands of health professionals. In this way, it will hurt everyone, including the poor. No communist society has ever done well, and this communist policy will badly harm Karnataka.
In a free market people voluntarily give their custom to the service provider who gives them the best service at the lowest cost. Simultaneously, the desire for profits motivates healthcare providers to provide good quality healthcare while keeping their costs down. And they can’t charge whatever they wish since they are forced by the competition among hospitals to keep prices low. Anyone who makes a profit in such a competitive environment is signalling that he has successfully and efficiently served the people. That is the best outcome for society.
Mr Iqbal said that a government’s role is to create the environment for market-led profitable investments, thereby serving the needs of the community. But instead of identifying and addressing any barriers to investment, the Congress communists are attacking the very existence of the health sector.
Mr Siddaramaiah should remember that the taxpayer does not subsidise private medical establishments, nor should there be any such subsidy. These establishments buy land at commercial rates, pay commercial taxes and get utilities like water and electricity at commercial rates. In fact, SBP understands that most private hospitals and clinics do not break even for the first 5-10 years and most earn barely enough to stay in business.
Mr Iqbal said that instead of Mr Siddaramaiah worrying about the private sector (which is already badly shackled with thousands of rules and infrastructure constraints), he should look within – at the total mismanagement of government hospitals. The private sector is the last ray of hope for the people of Karnataka. Now the anti-people Congress wants to extinguish even this last ray of hope.
SBP also opposes many other aspects of the new health laws, such as a district redressal body that comprises six members but with only one doctor member. Further, there are already several avenues for patients to complain, including consumer courts, civil courts, medical bodies. Creating another body is unnecessary and will only increase fear in doctors’ mind. SBP demands a complete repeal of the new law.

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Lingayats in Karnataka to form Forum, Demand Separate Religion Status

The squabble between the two seers has witnessed several turns past few days

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Lingayats against Veerashaivas
An important center of pilgrimage for people of the Lingayat faith in India. Wikimedia
  • The Lingayat community leaders are planning to form a forum to up the ante on their demand for separate religion status
  • The leaders hold that Lingayats and Veerashaivas are different 
  • Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha meeting is scheduled on August 10 to reach a final decision 

New Delhi, August 9, 2017: The Lingayat community leaders in Karnataka are planning to float an all India front, which will be an umbrella body for all Lingayat outfits in the country. It is an attempt to further up the ante on their demand for a separate religion status.

According to The Hindu report, Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha meeting has been scheduled on August 10, in Bengaluru, where further discussion will take place to evolve a consensus and reach a conclusive decision.

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The leaders, at a press conference in Kalaburgi stated, that contrary to the opinion of the Mahasabha, they do not consider Lingayats and Veerashaivas as the same. “We hold that Veerashaiva and Lingayat are different and hence demand independent status for the Lingayat community. A meeting of leaders representing both will be convened in Bengaluru on August 10. If the Veerashaiva Mahasabha continues to adhere to its stand, we will begin to float an Akhila Bharata Linghayat Mahasabha bringing all Lingayat organisations and religious institutions together,” said Sanjay Makal, a Lingayat leader, during the press conference.

“Veerashaiva upholds and practises the principles advocated by the vedas, aagamas, shastras, puranas and other texts that are part of Hindu religion. Based on this, earlier applications for religion tag to Veerashaiva/Lingayat were rejected outright. If we demand independent religion status to Lingayat alone, we will be successful as the demand has solid material base,” he added.

Also read: First Hindi and now English, the Language War in Karnataka Continues

The squabble between the two seers has witnessed several turns past few days. Recently, Lingayat Mahasabha filed a defamation complaint against the Rambhapuri Jagadguru Prasannarenuka Veera Someshwara Rajadeshikendra Shivacharya Mahaswamiji, the head of the Veerashaiva math based out of Chikamagaluru. He had taken a stand that Veershaivas and Lingayats are the same.

On August 2, Sharana Chandramouli, Lingayat Mahasabha State President, filed a complaint against the Rambhapuri Pontiff for allegedly making defamatory statements against Mate Mahadevi, the head of the Lingayat mutt Basava Dharma Peetha.

According to Chandramouli, the Rambhapuri pontiff had issued a statement stating that Mate Mahadevi had, in 1962, written a love letter to Lingananda Swami, the religious head who initiated Mate Mahadevi into the mutt.

The Rambhapuri seer’s statement was followed by protests, with the followers of Mate Mahadevi shouting slogans against the Rambhapuri seer demanding him to tender an apology to the woman seer.

An effigy of the Rambhapuri pontiff was also burnt during the protests.

In reaction to this, on August 1, an effigy of Mate Mahadevi was also burnt, by thousands of followers of the Rambhapuri seer from Gadag, Dharwad and Bidar, who staged a protest in Hubballi.

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha

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In last 3 Years, there is a Significant Rise in Chamundeshwari Temple’s Income

The income rise is seen as there have been donations by devotees collected in the temple hundi and from various sources also.

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Chamundeshwari Temple
Chamundeshwari Temple. Wikimedia commons
  • The income of Chamundeshwari Temple has registered a notable increase over a period of three years
  • During the Ashada Shukravaras, private vehicles are prohibited on the road to Chamundi Hills by the administration
  • This temple is around 1,000 years old

Karnataka, July 31, 2017: On top of Chamundi Hills in Karnataka, there lies the famous Sri Chamundeshwari Temple. The hills are about 13 km from Mysore, Karnataka and globally famous for its beauty. The temple is named Chamudeshwari as in it resides goddess Durga, the word Chamundi means Durga itself. She is the fierce form of Shakti (power). She is known as the slayer of demons- Chanda, Munda and also Mahishasura, (buffalo-headed monster).

This temple is around 1,000 years old and, what was a small shrine initially, gained importance over the centuries and today it has become a big temple. The temple saw its first share of significance after the Maharajas of Mysore known as Wodeyars came to power in 1399 A.D., they were known to be great devotees and worshippers of the Devi Chamundeshwari. She became their home deity and thus assumed religious prominence at that time and it has only seen rise since then.

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The income of Chamundeshwari Temple has registered a notable increase over a period of three years. According to a statement issued by Deputy Commissioner D. Randeep, the temple’s total income between April to July when Ashada Shukravara’s (Fridays) are observed was: in 2015- ₹5.98 crore, in 2016- ₹7.86 crore and reached a height of ₹11.08 crore in 2017.

The total income came from various sources such as pujas and offerings and also the donations collected in the temple hundi. The hundi collection between April and July 2015 was ₹1.63 crore and during the corresponding period in 2016, it was ₹3.51. It increased to ₹3.86 crore in the following year.

The temple income though marginally dipped from ₹4, 35, 29,205 during 2015 (April to July) to ₹4, 35, 08,507 during 2016, it went up significantly to ₹7.22 crore during 2017.As per a statement from the Deputy Commissioner, the Ashada hundi collection alone during 2017 was a surprising ₹1.74 crore and he added that the hundi counting was carried out on July 26 and 27.

A noteworthy point is that there’s a large volume of traffic on the road to Chamundi Hills especially during the auspicious occasions and on weekends.

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During the Ashada Shukravaras, private vehicles are prohibited on the road to Chamundi Hills by the administration. As a solution, alternative arrangements are made for the transport by KSRTC buses. Such is the popularity of this big temple filled with devotees.

As traffic on the road to the hilltop grows dense on weekends and auspicious days, there is big chaos at the last stretch of the road leading to the area around Mahisasura statue owing to haphazard parking.

Whenever the flow of traffic increases, the traffic police halt vehicles near the Mysore City viewing point in order to prevent congestion at the hilltop. The halted vehicles are allowed to proceed only after sufficient parking space is created at the hilltop when the parked vehicles leave the area.

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Apart from Chamundeshwari Temple, there are some other wealthy temples in India- Sai Baba Temple of Shirdi and Tirumala Tirupati.

The renowned Sai Baba Temple of Shirdi, managed by Shree Saibaba Sansthan Trust is one of the wealthiest temples in the country. As per official records, from January to December 2016, the revered Sai Baba temple managed to accumulate a received income of ₹403.75 crore. When compared to the previous year’s income (₹393.72 crore), it’s a massive gain. Of the total income gained in the year 2016 ₹258.42 crore was in the form of donations. The temple earned a whopping cash donation of ₹258.42 crore. To make things more golden, it fetched ₹6.74 crore and ₹1.10 crore from 28 kg gold ornaments and silver jewellery, respectively.

When we speak of wealthy temples, how can we not mention Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam? Fondly known as Tirumala, the temple of Lord Venkateswara attained a massive wealth of ₹1,018 in 2016. Adding to the ever-increasing wealth, approximately 10 crore pieces of the iconic Tirupati Laddoo prasadam was sold. Not only this, ₹201 crore was generated by the online business. Each year the temple sells the online-ticket for darshan. In the said year too, more than 67 lakh Hindu devotees bought the online darshan tickets.

prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08

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