New Delhi, May 19: Just three days after the arrest of Rajasthan Royals players S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila in connection with alleged spot fixing in at least three matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Delhi police today made three fresh arrests. Among them was former Ranji Trophy player Manish Budewa who was arrested from Aurangabad. Budewa,32, played for Vidarbha from 2003 to 2005. According to sources, Budewa helped the bookies reach Chandila who is said to have been in touch with four sets of bookies.
In addition, fixers Sunil Bhatia (44) and Kiran Dole (43) were also arrested after their phones were tapped by the police. With today’s arrest, a total of 17 people — three IPL players, two former players and 12 bookies-cum-fixers — were arrested in connection with this case. “Guddewar used to be a neigbhour of Chandila before 2000 and used to practice cricket together. He helped Dole and Bhatia meet Chandila to fix matches,” a senior police official said.
The official further said that “Baburao Yadav, a Ranji player for Railways, is also allegedly involved in the spot-fixing and he is yet to be arrested.” The arrested trio were linked to Ashwani Aggarwal, who is already in the custody of police. They had meetings in Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon and Chandigarh. Though the Police did not confirm the role of players in other teams as they have “no definite proof”, investigators did not rule out the possibility and said probe was “still on and open-ended”.
Earlier today, an emergency meeting of the BCCI’s Working Committee was conducted in Chennai today with IPL Chairman, Rajiv Shukla assuring that the strictest action will be taken should the players be found guilty. However, the BCCI President, N Srinivasan said that they were “handicapped” because the BCCI could not control bookies. It was also decided that the Rajasthan Royals will file an FIR and initiate criminal proceedings against the three players who were arrested on Thursday.
As a fallout of the spot fixing scandal, various issues like the lack of transparency in the functioning of the BCCI and the need for stricter laws to check spot fixing and corruption in sports have returned to the fore. Following the initial arrests, former Sports Minister, Ajay Maken called for the BCCI to come under RTI. “BCCI should agree to come under RTI. Any organisation entrusted with job of selecting National Team cannot call itself a Private Body!” he tweeted.
Similarly, Law Minister Kapil Sibal proposed a new law to the Sport Minister Jitender Singh to ensure stricter punishment for those found guilty of illegal activities like match fixing and to also address the apparent loopholes that help players and other accused get away easily.
The Delhi police has asked various hotels in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Kolkata to share CCTV footage of the Sreesanth, Chandila and Chavan’s for the police to observe their meetings with bookies. The police plans to ask for voice samples of the three players arrested on Thursday.
Sources said that Sreesanth claimed he had high political connections and even gave the police officer his mobile phone asking him to call the Chief Minister of Kerala or Maharashtra, whom he knew personally, before arresting him. They said he was with a woman in a car near Carter Road when a Delhi Police inspector overtook and stopped the car. The Inspector then showed him his identity card. Initially the Kerala pacer resisted arrest but was taken into the police car. The investigators said the 19-member team was told not to disclose the reason for arrest to any of the accused.
As per the FIR lodged with the Special Cell of Delhi Police, a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy was registered on the complaint filed by Inspector Badrish Dutt, who died under mysterious circumstances just a day after filing it. Dutt, an expert in intercepting calls, had tapped over 100 hours of telephonic conversations that led to unravelling of the scandal, the sources said. In the FIR registered on May 9, no player or bookie was named.
“Match fixers and bookies from Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab etc and some players participating in this Indian Premier League tournament have joined together to indulge in spot and match-fixing,” it read. It further stated that the Special Cell received information in the “third week of April that certain members of the underworld” were involved in “some sort of fixing” in the ongoing IPL with active participation of some unidentified conduits based in Delhi.
“It was also revealed that these conduits are contacting cricket players who have been recently engaged by IPL sponsors at a very high price for their respective teams with a view to stage managing some matches for making windfall gains through several bookies, who facilitate illegal gambling in the sport. “It had also been informed that players who will be ‘fixed’ will be paid huge amounts to under-perform during decided bowling overs/spells,” the FIR said.
The FIR also noted that for these overs, huge amounts of money would be put on stake by the bookies. “Such acts will amount in cheating innocent and sports- loving people of their hard earned money used in purchasing tickets. Large number of people watch the matches; not only in stadia, purchasing costly tickets, but also across the globe through televisions and internet expecting that there would be a fair play.
The FIR also said the bookies and players decide before a match as to which portion of it will be ‘fixed’. “Pre-decided signals will be given by the players to the bookies that will clearly be visible in the stadium or on the television for initiating heavy betting. “In this process, the ‘fixed’ player would get a huge amount as illegal gratification over and above his contractual value already committed to him by his franchisee,” it said.
The Enforcement Directorate is also likely to begin a money laundering probe into the recent allegations of spot-fixing in the ongoing IPL tournament. The action under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) would be done after going through the FIRs filed by both Delhi and Mumbai police recently, ED sources said. Ten people were also arrested in three cases for running betting rackets in Ujjain and Muzaffarnagar during the current IPL matches.
– with inputs from PTI