Today, the Pune police arrested five people, including a leader of the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party(NCP), for operating a betting racket in Pune’s Nigdi area.

According to the Nigdi police, Mr Javed Shaikh, an NCP corporator from Akurdi along with Navin Mittal, Rakesh Mehta, Pravin Pawar and Zahir Shaikh was said to have been running a betting operation from a building in Chikhali, betting on matches in the ongoing Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL).

Javed Shaikh was among the few in his party to withstand the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) juggernaut which swept the cash-rich Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) in the civic polls held in February this year.

Senior police inspector Vijakumar Palsule said, “Acting on a tip-off, we raided a flat in Mittal building in Chikhali and seized a number of betting paraphernalia including mobile phones, a laptop, a betting register used by the accused during the course of their operation. We have booked them under relevant sections of the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887.”

The police retrieved betting articles amounting to Rs. 2.77 lakh including Rs. 53,000 in cash.

This is not the first time that the NCP leader has been in trouble. He is known as a party strongman in the PCMC area and was arrested in 2009 as well by the Nigdi police in an extortion case.

He weathered the BJP storm this year to be elected for the third consecutive time from the Akurdi panel, defeating the Shiv Sena’s Maruti Bhapkar (once a prominent Aam Aadmi Party leader) by a daunting margin.

Further investigation is being done to gauge the scope of the racket.

Only a few days ago, a house was raided in Saffron Enclave, Jalandhar and 6 bookies were arrested for online betting on Tamil Nadu Premier League.

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