Surat: More than 450 people have been arrested by different police stations in the city for gambling in the past three days and more than 75 FIRs have been registered. Arrests for gambling have been reported in the past during Bhim Agiyaras, but this year it appears the festivities have continued from Friday to Sunday.
Police seized cash and valuables worth more than Rs 20 lakh from the accused. Most of the gambling raids were conducted in residential areas and they were successful due to accurate information provided to the police.
“In most cases, the loser is the whistleblower. In addition, police maintained strict surveillance in areas where gambling activity under Bhim Agiyaras was suspected,” said SV Parmar, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone 1.
Most of the raids and FIRs were recorded in areas dominated by people in Saurashtra. There is a tradition of gambling during Bhim Agiyaras in Saurashtra and it seems to have come to the city with people from the region who migrated here.
“In some parts of Saurashtra, it is traditional to gamble during Bhim Agiyaras and Janmashthmi. People migrated to Surat and brought the traditions here. They consider betting as a game and they are not dependent on it” said Kanji Bhalala, a leader of the city’s Patidar community.
“Women also play and this activity only takes place in residential areas. I think it is not harmful to the society since it is not a habit and there is no large sum involved. The trend is down, although gambling takes place during these festivals,” Bhalala said.
“The police step up patrols during these festivals when we receive reports of illegal activities. Although it is a tradition, the police will take action when there is criminal activity,” Parmar added.