Pune : An illegal Matka den — a gambling joint — has been flourishing on a Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) footpath along the main road towards Suratwadi, about 200 metre from Pashan police post and about 100 metre from the office of local corporator Sushma Nimhan. The gambling den runs openly inside a makeshift structure. There are allegations that Pune police “have lost control” over Matka dens and are unable to prevent them from openly operating in the city.
In March, following a Newsline report, Pune police had raided a Matka den in Pashan lake project area. Soon a Matka place appeared on PMC footpath and many believe it was put in place by the same group who ran the busted Matka den.
Behind the Matka den is Sai Trinity, a commercial complex housing corporate offices and research institutes. Located nearby is the defence estate of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which has a residential area and a marketplace.
Local residents and office-goers face problems because of the Matka den operating openly cocking a snook at law enforcers.
There were allegations from the local populace that such activity cannot be carried out without the covert support of police, politicians and PMC officials.
“Many people including those with a criminal background, liquor addicts and nuisance-makers visit the Matka den daily, making the area unsafe for others. They park their vehicles on the main road causing problems for commuters. There could be many such illegal Matka dens in the city, attracting youths and others to take part in illegal activities,” said a resident.
A citizen said that at times the Matka den operates from 9 am to about 12 in the night and neither the police nor the anti-encroachment cell of PMC taken any action. When a Pune Newsline team visited the spot, the Matka den was operating in a shed erected on an encroached part of the PMC footpath. Several vehicles were parked on the main road outside. Money transactions were and many youths were playing Matka. A man was keeping watch at the entrance.
Residents have demanded an investigation into alleged complicity of cops or government functionaries in running Matka dens. Earlier, police had arrested seven persons after raiding the Matka den in an area proposed for a biodiversity park, part of the eco-restoration project at Pashan lake.
Local residents suspect that the same group may have started the Matka den on the main road. Citizens suspect that some “influential” persons with “links” with police, politicians or PMC officials could be behind the Matka den operations.
When contacted, Nitin Udas, PMC ward officer for the area said, “I am continued…