Satta King: Satta Matka King Ratan Khatri dies in Mumbai | Mumbai News
MUMBAI: Ratan Khatri, who died Saturday at his home near Tardeo, was a regular at the Mahalaxmi racecourse. He was 88 years old. Dressed in flawless white kurta pajamas and a scarf tied like a headband, he would be seen diligently studying the race book and whispering to himself.
the Matka king, who from the early 1960s to the mid-1990s decided the fate of several lakh gamblers and faced millions of rupees through an illegal gambling network across the country, would find solace even in a bet of 100 rupees on horseback . There were not many among several hundred gamblers who could claim to know the man closely.
Khatri loved to avoid people. However, this reporter had access to his treasure chest of anecdotes and colorful tales, especially about famous people.
“I spent a lot of time with Feroz Khan in the Rajkamal studio during the making of Dharmatma (based on the matka business run by actor Premnath),” said the man who later produced a movie called Rangila Ratan.
Under the “no names please” terms, Khatri claimed that several movie stars, corporate barons, and politicians had more than a passing interest in Matka and sometimes called him to God’s forgotten hours when they were desperate for money cash.
He began his dream career in the bustling business area of Mumbadevi, where idlers used to gamble on the daily trickle of fluctuating cotton rates in the New York market. “But the New York market five-day weekly calendar saw compulsive gamblers looking for alternatives that I provided for them,” he revealed.
“My close friends asked me to start my own union and I started drawing three letters to decide the number of the day,” he reported on the start of an activity that would last more than three decades.
Khatri used to draw three letters, twice a day at 9:00 p.m. and at midnight. The value of the cards would be added together to arrive at the winning number. The number will be broadcast through all betting centers across the country and those that were connected to Khatri abroad.
For a 25 paise bet, the returns were around Rs2.25 or more.
“People had great faith in my system. I would even ask them to open all three letters. I knew it was illegal, but I executed it with complete honesty,” he said.
According to him, the reason Matka lost its attraction is because “criminals today are running a little of what is left of matka and there is also an instant lottery option.”
The police crackdown on his unauthorized kingdom in 1995 and the resulting arrest saw the man, who spent 19 months behind bars during the Emergency, give up his illegal business.
Khatri suffered a paralytic attack in 2001, but his sharp mind could still juggle the numbers and assess the odds.
Hard to please, it would be influenced by very few things or people. One of them was a plate of delicious Upma at the racecourse in the afternoon.