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Centre's Ban, Allegations Against Bhupesh Baghel: What's the Mahadev App Row?

The Centre banned the Mahadev app on Sunday, 5 November, following an ED probe into its legality.

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The Mahadev betting app is among 22 softwares and websites banned by the Centre on Sunday, 5 November, following an Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe into their legality.

This comes in the backdrop of a political controversy surrounding Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel's alleged involvement in the Mahadev app case.

In this article, we will explore what the Mahadev app is, why the Centre banned it, and what the charges are against Baghel.

Centre's Ban, Allegations Against Bhupesh Baghel: What's the Mahadev App Row?

  1. 1. What Is the Mahadev Betting App?

    The Mahadev app provides a platform for "illegal" betting in different kinds of games, such as cricket, tennis, football, badminton, et al. It also involves betting in a number of card games, like poker, Teen Patti, Dragon Tiger, and virtual sporting games.

    The app is promoted by Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal who are originally from Chhattisgarh's Bhilai but are settled in Dubai. They run the app by franchising "panels/branches" to known associates on a 70-30 ratio, the ED alleged.

    • The modus operandi is that promoters advertise contact numbers on different websites to encourage people to bet through the app and thus win prize money.

    • Once someone contacts the given numbers, they will be given two additional contact numbers. One of them is used to deposit money and collect points for the bets placed, while the other is used to contact the website and encash the points received, as per NDTV.

    • However, gaming on the platform is allegedly rigged by the promoters. While users win profits after placing initial bets, thus encouraging them to use the app further, they are likely to lose huge amounts over time. Moreover, payments from the app are done via bank accounts that have been opened fraudulently.

    According to the ED, the app has earned the promoters a staggering Rs 5,000 crore so far. In fact, the app had come into the spotlight after Chandrakar reportedly spent over Rs 250 crore on his wedding in Dubai and leased a private plane to fly in friends and relatives from Nagpur for the occasion.

    Earlier this year, the ED had questioned Bollywood actors Ranbir Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor and comedian Kapil Sharma after they allegedly performed at Chandrakar's wedding – payments for which were reportedly made though the hawala route.
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  2. 2. What Reasons Did the Govt Give for Banning the Mahadev App?

    The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) stated that it had ordered a ban on 22 betting apps and websites following a probe by the ED which revealed that the platforms were indulging in "unlawful" operations.

    "The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has issued blocking orders against 22 illegal betting apps and websites, including Mahadev Book and Reddyannaprestopro," the Centre said in a statement.

    Union Minister of State for Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar also alleged inaction on the part of the Chhattisgarh government to curb the activities of the Mahadev app.

    "Chhattisgarh Government had the authority to recommend the shutdown of the website/app under Sec 69A IT Act. However, they did not do so and no such request was made by the state government while they have been investigating it for the last 1.5 years."
    Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar

    "The first and only request has been received from ED and it has been acted upon. Nothing was preventing the Chhattisgarh Government from making similar requests earlier," he added.

    The Centre also said that a constable in the Chhattisgarh Police named Bhim Singh Yadav and another man, Asim Das, are in custody on money laundering charges in connection with the case

    Expand
  3. 3. Mahadev App & Bhupesh Baghel: What Are the Allegations Against Chhattisgarh CM?

    The ED claimed that an accused in a money laundering case told the agency that Chief Minister Baghel allegedly received Rs 508 crore from the app's promoters, India Today reported.

    This comes close on the heels of the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections – the first phase of which is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, 7 November.

    The alleged informant, Shubham Soni – who is a key accused in the Mahadev app case – purportedly made a video from Dubai in which he levelled allegations against Baghel, which include money laundering and the use of illegal funds to finance his election campaign.

    Earlier this year, the ED had conducted raids on the premises of Baghel's political adviser and two Officers on Special Duty (OSDs). The probe agency had alleged that "high ranking officials connected with the Chief Minister's Office" had received benefits to allow the app to function within the confines of the state.

    The offices of the app's founders were also raided in a number of cities, like Kolkata, Mumbai, and Bhopal, and assets worth crores seized from the locations.

    Expand
  4. 4. What Did Bhupesh Baghel Say About the Govt's Allegations?

    Following the ED's allegations, and the release of Soni's video by the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) media convener Sidharth Nath Singh at a press conference, Baghel publicly refuted the charges.

    "It is no mystery why and how this video has come and it is also not difficult to understand that such a statement was issued at the time of elections only to benefit the BJP," the Chhattisgarh CM said.

    "Everyone also understands that this is being done by weaponising the ED. In fact, the BJP is now contesting elections with the help of ED and is using ED to defame me," he asserted.

    The chief minister further said that he has never met Soni and doesn't even know who he is. However, he added that he can't say whether he was part of any gathering or function.

    In the video, Soni purportedly claimed that he was the owner of the Mahadev app and had founded it in 2021.

    "This person (Shubham Soni) is claiming that he is the owner of 'Mahadev App'. Surprisingly, even the ED, the agency which has been investigating this case for months, was not aware of this and till two days ago, the ED was calling him a manager," Baghel took to X to say.

    (With inputs from NDTV and India Today.)

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

What Is the Mahadev Betting App?

The Mahadev app provides a platform for "illegal" betting in different kinds of games, such as cricket, tennis, football, badminton, et al. It also involves betting in a number of card games, like poker, Teen Patti, Dragon Tiger, and virtual sporting games.

The app is promoted by Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal who are originally from Chhattisgarh's Bhilai but are settled in Dubai. They run the app by franchising "panels/branches" to known associates on a 70-30 ratio, the ED alleged.

  • The modus operandi is that promoters advertise contact numbers on different websites to encourage people to bet through the app and thus win prize money.

  • Once someone contacts the given numbers, they will be given two additional contact numbers. One of them is used to deposit money and collect points for the bets placed, while the other is used to contact the website and encash the points received, as per NDTV.

  • However, gaming on the platform is allegedly rigged by the promoters. While users win profits after placing initial bets, thus encouraging them to use the app further, they are likely to lose huge amounts over time. Moreover, payments from the app are done via bank accounts that have been opened fraudulently.

According to the ED, the app has earned the promoters a staggering Rs 5,000 crore so far. In fact, the app had come into the spotlight after Chandrakar reportedly spent over Rs 250 crore on his wedding in Dubai and leased a private plane to fly in friends and relatives from Nagpur for the occasion.

Earlier this year, the ED had questioned Bollywood actors Ranbir Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor and comedian Kapil Sharma after they allegedly performed at Chandrakar's wedding – payments for which were reportedly made though the hawala route.
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What Reasons Did the Govt Give for Banning the Mahadev App?

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) stated that it had ordered a ban on 22 betting apps and websites following a probe by the ED which revealed that the platforms were indulging in "unlawful" operations.

"The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has issued blocking orders against 22 illegal betting apps and websites, including Mahadev Book and Reddyannaprestopro," the Centre said in a statement.

Union Minister of State for Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar also alleged inaction on the part of the Chhattisgarh government to curb the activities of the Mahadev app.

"Chhattisgarh Government had the authority to recommend the shutdown of the website/app under Sec 69A IT Act. However, they did not do so and no such request was made by the state government while they have been investigating it for the last 1.5 years."
Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar

"The first and only request has been received from ED and it has been acted upon. Nothing was preventing the Chhattisgarh Government from making similar requests earlier," he added.

The Centre also said that a constable in the Chhattisgarh Police named Bhim Singh Yadav and another man, Asim Das, are in custody on money laundering charges in connection with the case

0

Mahadev App & Bhupesh Baghel: What Are the Allegations Against Chhattisgarh CM?

The ED claimed that an accused in a money laundering case told the agency that Chief Minister Baghel allegedly received Rs 508 crore from the app's promoters, India Today reported.

This comes close on the heels of the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections – the first phase of which is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, 7 November.

The alleged informant, Shubham Soni – who is a key accused in the Mahadev app case – purportedly made a video from Dubai in which he levelled allegations against Baghel, which include money laundering and the use of illegal funds to finance his election campaign.

Earlier this year, the ED had conducted raids on the premises of Baghel's political adviser and two Officers on Special Duty (OSDs). The probe agency had alleged that "high ranking officials connected with the Chief Minister's Office" had received benefits to allow the app to function within the confines of the state.

The offices of the app's founders were also raided in a number of cities, like Kolkata, Mumbai, and Bhopal, and assets worth crores seized from the locations.

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What Did Bhupesh Baghel Say About the Govt's Allegations?

Following the ED's allegations, and the release of Soni's video by the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) media convener Sidharth Nath Singh at a press conference, Baghel publicly refuted the charges.

"It is no mystery why and how this video has come and it is also not difficult to understand that such a statement was issued at the time of elections only to benefit the BJP," the Chhattisgarh CM said.

"Everyone also understands that this is being done by weaponising the ED. In fact, the BJP is now contesting elections with the help of ED and is using ED to defame me," he asserted.

The chief minister further said that he has never met Soni and doesn't even know who he is. However, he added that he can't say whether he was part of any gathering or function.

In the video, Soni purportedly claimed that he was the owner of the Mahadev app and had founded it in 2021.

"This person (Shubham Soni) is claiming that he is the owner of 'Mahadev App'. Surprisingly, even the ED, the agency which has been investigating this case for months, was not aware of this and till two days ago, the ED was calling him a manager," Baghel took to X to say.

(With inputs from NDTV and India Today.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Chhattisgarh   Gaming Apps   Bhupesh Baghel 

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