by: Zeenish Imroz/Zulkifla Shakeel
After almost four decades of continuous efforts the residents of Court Road and Maisuma, two main commercial localities in Srinagar, finally rid their area of lottery sellers.
In last six months, with the help of local volunteers, police managed to arrest fourteen people in connection with selling of lottery tickets from shops run near historic Ghanta Ghar.
“After we got a number of anonymous calls from residents living in the vicinity, we took action and shut main lottery sellers,” said a police officer from Kothi Bagh, Srinagar. “In order to wipe out this menace completely, we want people to cooperate with us.”
The selling lottery ticket is illegal under The Public Gambling Act No. 18 of 1977, which came into force on the first day of Bakshi Government in 1978.
“Last year fourteen people were arrested and presented in the court under Section 36, an act against illegal street vendors. They have been fined Rs 100 or Rs 200 for this illegal act,” said a Munshi at Police Station Maisuma.
Two years back, the Supreme Court of India allowed state governments to ban sale of lottery. It refused to recognise the right to sell lottery as fundamental right.
In Srinagar, the business of selling lottery was going on since last four decades, without anyone bothering to question its legality. But once lottery ticket sellers started to involve youngsters, promising them a commission of around Rs 2000 per day, residents decided to act. “If we would not have acted now, it would have affected an entire generation,” said a local.
According to insiders estimate, the lottery business in Kashmir is worth around Rs 20 crore per month, out of which Rs 2 crore is given as prize money. The rest is pocketed by the people who run this business. “Mostly people with hand-to-mouth earnings purchase lottery tickets. They usually end up losing everything,” said a local.