Sunday, February 25, 2024

Trio confesses; BCCI suspends another cricketer

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) swung into action Friday calling an emergency meeting and suspending a cricketer, but more and more sordid details of the spot fixing scandal came tumbling as the three arrested players, including S. Sreesanth, reportedly confessed to their crime.

BCCI called for its working committee meeting in Chennai Sunday to discuss the arrests of the three cricketers and suspended Gujarat medium pacer Amit Singh who, during his stint with Rajasthan Royals, was allegedly used by the bookies to fix deals with cricketers.

After a day of intense interrogation and investigation, Delhi Police sources said they stumbled on the spot fixing racket after they recorded the phone calls of aides of Tiger Memon with bookies.

They also found out that one of the players was told to rope in others in the sordid saga. It was Ajit Chandila, arrested Wednesday night from Mumbai along with his Rajasthan Royals colleagues Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan, who reportedly told police that he tried to rope in two more players at the behest of bookies who had promised to offer him Rs.20 lakh for bowling a fixed over. But the two players refused.

“During questioning, Chandila told police that he met bookies at Country Club in Manesar (adjoining Delhi) on April 6. In the meeting, the bookies asked him to rope in more players for spot fixing. He gave two names and the bookies asked him to bring them to a party where the deal could be discussed,” police sources told IANS.

However, the two cricketers refused to attend the party. Chandila also reportedly told interrogators that in the 2012 IPL season, the last two overs of a match between Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals might have been fixed.

Amidst media reports that Rajasthan Royals co-owner Shilpa Shetty, her husband Raj Kundra and captain Rahul Dravid would also be questioned, police denied calling them for the probe.

The police said they were able to trail the sleazy connection when they started to intercept the calls of aides of Tiger Memon, who is said to be in Dubai, since March 2013. They also said that escorts were used to lure the players into the net.

Sources also told IANS that when Sreesanth was arrested from Trident Hotel in south Mumbai’s Nariman Point late Wednesday, he was with a woman. Police refused to give more details about her. They also ruled out her involvement in spot fixing.

The three players, who along with 11 bookies have been remanded to five days’ police custody, have been lodged in the office of Delhi Police’s Special Cell in Lodhi Colony.

Police said all the three players have confessed to their crime. While Sreesanth was the only who went without dinner, his two team mates along with the 11 bookies had a hearty meal Thursday night in police custody. But the fast bowler had rajma-chawal as brunch Friday, police sources said.

After he had had his brunch, Sreesanth was questioned by Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar.
Coming out of the Special Cell office, the top cop said Sreesanth was “cooperating” in the investigations.

The first to break down was Chavan, a senior police officer told IANS. “He broke down when we questioned him. He accepted that he made a mistake. He also accepted his role in spot fixing,” he added.

Of the 11 bookies, Chandresh Patel, who was arrested from Mumbai’s Andheri area, may be the main conspirator in this case, police said.

He was into the profession for many years, police added. Sources also said that Sreesanth was directly approached by cricketer-turned bookie Jiju Janardhan, his distant cousin who has also been arrested. He had played for Kerala U-25 cricket team.

Although the three accused confessed to their crimes, their families and lawyers maintained they were innocent. Deepak Prakash, Sreesanth’s lawyer, said: “Sreesanth has been falsely or mistakenly arrested.

They (Delhi Police) have got some wrong information or mistakenly arrested him.” Delhi Police said more teams have been sent to other states to conduct raids.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, meanwhile, congratulated Delhi Police for the investigations. Asked about the underworld link in the betting racket, he said: “Police is investigating.”

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