Pune: Ten city-based businessmen were arrested in a late night raid on Wednesday for allegedly betting on the IPL match between Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SH). They had booked a private lounge at a Koregaon-based pub and were in constant touch with two bookies, one located in the city and another in Gujarat.
“Around 11 pm on Wednesday, we raided The Mugshot Lounge, a pub owned by Siddharth Chopra, brother of Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra. They had booked a private dining room and were betting on the match between KKR and SH,” said Shrikant Pathak, deputy commissioner of police (special branch)
Priyanka Chopra at the launch of the lounge. PIC/Twitter (@mugshotlounge)
Teams from the city police, the crime branch and the anti-extortion cell recovered mobile phones and cash worth Rs 4.4 lakh during the raid. The businessmen, all aged between 21 and 26, confessed to placing bets on the match and said they were connected to two bookies, Gujarat-based Amit Shah and Devang Mehta of Pune.
The ten businessmen have been identified as Jatin Gudesha (24) of Isha Pyramid Society in Gangadam; Ankush Gandhi (23) from Asopala Villa of Ekbote Colony; Darshan Nibjiya (23), resident of Veer Bharat Society; Raj Oswal (23), Harsh Porwal (21) and Yogesh Oswal (25), residents of Adinath Society; Rahul Lodha (23) of Salisbury Park; Shreyas Jain (26), Bhavik Jain (22) and Siddharth Jain (24), residents of Shukrawar Peth.
A case has been registered against them under relevant sections of the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act.
We're not at fault: Family
Siddharth Chopra’s mother, Madhu, said the family owns the pub, but the day-to-day operations are run by others. “We are unaware of the incident. Siddharth has not been to Pune in the past month. It is clearly written there that betting and illegal activities are not allowed. It is impossible for any such activity to take place there. There are cameras installed all over the place. It is a successful place. So, people may be giving tip-offs. This betting could not have happened from our side. People could have been doing this on the phone. Betting takes place through phones. We will need to find out what exactly happened.”
Innocent, says lawyer
Seoul Shah, the businessmen’s lawyer, claimed that the 10 have been falsely implicated in the case. “They were just watching the match and the police arrested them on mere suspicion. The police have just seized their electronic gadgets like mobile phones and iPads, besides cash. The sections under which they have been booked are bailable. They are ready to cooperate with the investigation.”
— Inputs from Shaheen Parkar
Situated on the third floor of Jewel Square Mall in Koregoan Park, the Mugshot Lounge was inaugurated in September 2014 by Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra, who also turned bartender for a day. Her brother, Siddharth Chopra, launched the lavish pub-lounge, along with his Nagpur-based business partner, Yug Tuli. It was embroiled in a bitter dispute with a partner restaurant over space and licence. This had forced both the businesses to close down temporarily in November 2014. It was re-opened in February last year.
No case has been registered against the owners, as there is no prima facie evidence of them being involved in the betting.
“A probe is on and if we come to know that the pub was also involved in this illegal activity, we will book them, too,” said Shrikant Pathak, DCP (special branch).
Lounge manager Salman said, “We have nothing to do with the raid. All the the customers, who were arrested, had booked a table with us and came in around 9 pm on Wednesday. We can neither predict the intentions of our customers, nor can we keep an eye on each and everyone.”