Arrested Gamblers Are Criminals, Not Occasional Card Players Playing For The Festive Occasion At Home: Police Commissioner

**Bhubaneswar: ** With the onset of the festive season, criminals find a ploy to indulge in nefarious activities under the guise of religion and festivals. If the tradition was to ask donations politely during Saraswati, Ganesh and Durga Puja occasions, they turn it into an extortion process. Further, during puja, when devotion and purity is the key, these miscreants indulge in riotous merry-making involving in binge drinking and raise the decibel levels to such a level, that others fed up with this noise pollution fervently pray for the festive period to pass away as soon as possible. Likewise, taking cue from the tradition of playing cards during festivals, especially during Laxmi Puja, criminals indulge in gambling giving the tradition a bad name.

With scores of people arrested in gambling raids carried out by the police in the past few days throughout the state, the Police too were asked if the tradition is at fault.

However, clearly making a distinction with this festive card-playing tradition and the illegal gambling the criminals are indulging in, Yogesh Bahadur Khurania, Commissioner of Police, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack in reference to the arrested gamblers playing in secret hideouts said, “This is an organised crime. Not that the people caught in the raids are playing cards at home while celebrating Kumar Purnami. They do it like a profession, which makes it a cognisable offence,” clearly implying that the people arrested are indeed criminals hiding under the festive cover, who continue to play as professional gamblers throughout the year.

Nevertheless, commenting on the tradition of playing cards during the festival of Laxmi Puja, which falls on Kumar Purnami, Pratap Ratha, Professor, Utkal University said, “Normally it is a widely held belief that during Laxmi Puja if you do not play cards, Goddess Laxmi will not be pleased.” But, some miscreants have taken that tradition too far and have brought this ritual into disrepute by indulging in professional and illegal gambling in the name of religion, he asserted.