Did political pressure force bookie Mehta to surrender?

Globetrotting bookie Shobhan Mehta, better known as Shobhan Kalachowkie, was under great pressure to surrender to the Mumbai police after fleeing to Singapore in the wake of the IPL match fixing scandal. According to well-connected sources who spoke to SUNDAY MiD DAY, Mehta was yet to close transactions worth Rs 2,500 crore with several punters and bookies when the scam broke, forcing him to flee. But under pressure from his business associates and a senior politician, he surrendered to the police so he could clear his dues upon being granted bail.

According to Mumbai police officers, Mehta was arrested on Friday from the Casino Carnival in Goa. The Casino is mostly funded and run by Mumbai based bookies. On Saturday, he was produced in the metropolitan court in Mumbai and remanded to police custody till July 12.

Though Mumbai cops say Mehta was arrested based on their information, a Delhi-based top bookie told SMD that the international punter was forced to surrender since there were R2,500 crore worth of transactions that he had to close.

When contacted, senior police inspector Nandkumar Gopale of the Property Cell rubbished claims of political interference leading to the arrest claim. “If he was voluntarily surrendering, we would have arrested him in Mumbai. Why would we
go through the trouble of going to Goa and spending so
much money? Besides, he was with his family. Which criminal will choose to surrender in front of his wife and children?”

Mehta, who accepted bets under the pseudonym of Arjun, is a resident of Parel. He earned the title of ‘Kalachowokie’ because he used to live there once. Then deputy commissioner of police (DCP) SN Pandey had arrested Mehta in 2005.

He had then told this correspondent, that he would give up betting altogether. But sources say he simply moved to match-fixing. According to the police, Mehta was a frequent visitor to UK, Australia and South Africa and accepted bets through his own website. 

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