Mumbai: 14 held for gambling at NSCI, claim they were framed by rival group

The members were arrested last month for allegedly playing teen-patti; police also seized Rs 12 lakh from the room

The Tardeo police arrested 14 people from the premium National Sports Club of India (NSCI), in Worli on October 17, under the Prevention of Gambling Act. According to a police officer investigating the matter, they had raided one of the rooms on a tip-off, and caught people playing teen-patti, and also seized around Rs 12 lakh from the spot.

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The FIR about the alleged gambling at NSCI was registered at Tardeo police station. File pic
The FIR about the alleged gambling at NSCI was registered at Tardeo police station. File pic

The member who had booked the room claimed that they weren’t gambling but playing cards, and have fallen victim to the rival camp in the club. While they were released on bail soon, a chargesheet is being filed in the matter.

Jayantilal Shah, president of the club said, “We are providing all information and assistance to the police department to investigate the matter. Since the matter is subjudice we cannot comment further.”

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According to the FIR registered at Tardeo police station, the police found 12 people who were playing teen-patti, and two more people who were helping them play. Out of the 12 people who were allegedly gambling, S R Jain booked the room. Hence, a case has been registered against 14 people under the Prevention of Gambling Act under Sections 4 and 5.

When contacted, Jain said, “We were not gambling, it was Navratri and we had gathered there. We were just playing cards, but some people from the rival group misinformed the police, who then caught us.”

Not gambling
On being asked about the huge sum of money being present, Jain claimed, “We were not betting or gambling, the money belonged to one of the persons there, and it was in his car, so to keep it safe he got it upstairs to the room.”

Jain confirmed that the room was booked by him. He claimed that there was internal politics between the Action group (DNA) and the elected group — of office bearers — and the former group is using this to settle scores. The people, who follow Dr Shyam Nichani, call themselves the DNA or Action group.

Another person named in the FIR, Pankaj Patel said, “I wasn’t even in the room, I was outside, when the police raided. I didn’t know what was happening inside. I had been there for Navratri.”

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Viren Shah, owner of Roopam and a member, said, “Though its our club’s internal matter, as an elected member I can only say that if it’s true, then this is shocking. Our club’s reputation is at stake and if an FIR has been filed months ago and some member has been arrested, then immediate action of suspension or expulsion, should have been initiated against that member.

The inquiry should be handed over to the Crime Branch and whoever is responsible for the gambling on the club premises should be taken to task, and action should be taken, as this is maligning the reputation of our prestigious club. I will question the management on behalf of our group, DNA.”

Police speak
The investigating officer, T Dighe, police sub inspector from Tardeo Police station said, “We had caught the people red handed over a tip off, we are now in the process of filing a chargesheet and soon will be done with it.”

The controversy
NSCI has never been alien to controversy. It has been in the midst of controversy for the past five years at least. A member, Dr Shyam Nichani of the Action group, has been at logger heads with the committee for years now. He had also claimed that he was manhandled in the club premises.

One particular election was so high profile and contentious that the police had to provide security. On various occasions, some club members had resorted to various social media platforms to raise their voice, for which the club management had even threatened and slapped them with legal notices.

NSCI is a high profile club and members have levelled various allegations against each other. There have been fights over letting the ground for political events and bad food being served. While one group takes on the club management via social media, the other threatens them via other media like sending notices or even cancelling their membership.

The accused
The names of 13 of the 14 people involved in the case are: P Shah, B Panchal, P Jain, W Kapadia, A Patel, P Kothari, J Gabani, P Shah, V Jain, K Patel, Pankaj Patel, S R Jain and H Shah.

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