Players Nailed By Audio, Video Proof; No Clean Chit To Other Teams, Games
New Delhi: The dark and ugly face of Indian cricket exposed itself on Thursday when Delhi police unravelled a shocking and disgraceful spot-fixing scandal in the IPL involving three Rajasthan Royals players, including India international S Sreesanth. The three were caught striking deals—ranging from Rs 40 to Rs 60 lakh—with bookies for conceding a pre-determined number of runs in an over.
Armed with what appears to be incontrovertible evidence, police sleuths moved in to arrest the three cricketers—Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan—in Mumbai in the early hours when they were still in bed. As many as 11 bookies have been nabbed, including those with fanciful code names like Jupiter and Manoj Metro. One bookie arrested in Ahmedabad, Amit Singh, is a cricketer who played for Rajasthan Royals last season.
The mastermind of the spot-fixing racket, Sunil Ramchandani, is said to be in Dubai, raising suspicion of it being linked to a betting cartel controlled from Dubai by Tiger Memon, the most trusted aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. Delhi police chief Neeraj Kumar said more arrests were expected, and there were reports late at night of two more arrests in Mumbai.
But overshadowing the story of the crooked book-makers was the shame that has engulfed Indian cricket. Sreesanth, the talented but temperamental seamer, was seen by millions of cricket lovers as Team India's lucky mascot, having helped the team claim two World Cup titles — T20 in 2007 and ODI in 2011. But on Thursday, India discovered his seamier side.
Sreesanth and his two teammates were among 14 people arrested from Mumbai and Delhi, after special cell cops got confirmation of the racket when they found Chavan had bowled an over exactly as discussed with bookies earlier in the day.
Police said spot fixing had taken place during three Raj Royals matches this season—on May 5, 9 and 15— against Pune Warriors, Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians. Rajasthan Royals' owners, BCCI and ICC pledged full cooperation with the investigations.
NOT BROKE, BUT THEY STILL FIXED IT
THREE IN A ROYAL SPOT
S Sreesanth | 30 |
Pacer from Kerala. Featured in T20 2007 and 2011 World Cup finals that India won
Ajit Chandila | 29 |
Off-break bowler from Faridabad, Haryana
Ankeet Chavan | 27 |
Left-arm spinner from Mumbai
Of these Raj Royal players, Sreesanth fetched 2.2 crore in the auction in IPL 2012. Others signed as domestic players and got 20 lakh each
11 bookies arrested, including Jiju Janardhan alias Biju, a friend of Sreesanth, who acted as a conduit for him. Also Amit Singh, who played for RR last year and is still in the extended team. Another bookie, Chandresh Patel, codenamed Jupiter. From Delhi, Deepak Kumar, Rakesh alias Rocky were arrested
WHAT'S SPOT FIXING
Spot fixing is fixing in advance the result of a certain ball or over, or performance of an individual player. Player gets huge sums for doing what he's told. Bookies use advance info to rig bets. Matchfixing is fixing the outcome of a game. It's more difficult as it involves more players
CODES OF PLAYERS AND BOOKIES
No unusual gesture. A player would rotate watch, wear a towel, lift the T-shirt or tuck it in, take out the locket or put it in. Code for money: samaan. Payoffs range from 40-60 lakh
Delhi police were tracking some underworld leads since March. In early April, officers stumbled upon intercepts of a person from Mumbai underworld, now in Dubai, talking of spot fixing. By end of April, involvement of players came to notice. On Wed night, Sreesanth picked up from Carter Rd, Chavan from Trident, Chandila from InterCon
ARE FOREIGN PLAYERS INVOLVED?
Delhi police chief Neeraj Kumar says no. Speculation about other players rife
WHAT ABOUT TEAM OWNERS?
No evidence has been found
BALL BY BALL
MAY 5 |
Rajasthan v Pune, Jaipur What's fixed: Chandila would concede 14 or more runs in his 2nd over. Chandila gives away three easy fours and bowls a wide The code: Chandila would lift his shirt and look skywards Amount: 20 lakh in advance & 20 lakh later Slip-up: Chandila concedes runs but forgets to give signal. Deal is off and he has to refund money
MAY 9 |
Rajasthan v Punjab, Mohali What's fixed: Sreesanth would concede 13 runs or more in his 2nd over. He concedes 13, even though loose deliveries go unpunished The code: Sreesanth would tuck a towel in the front of his trousers. Before bowling the 2nd over, he asks for towel, warms up and stretches to give time for bookies to take bets Amount: 40 lakh
MAY 15 |
Mumbai vs Rajasthan, Mumbai What's fixed: Chavan's 2nd over to cost 13 or more runs. Chandila (not playing this match) acts as middleman between Chavan and bookies. Chavan goes for 15 runs. Rajasthan lose match by 14 runs The code: Chavan would move his wrist band Amount: 60 lakh. Chandila wants a cut; asks bookies not to pay Chavan directly
Tiger Memon controlling ops?
The disclosure that Sreesanth, two of his Rajasthan Royal teammates and 11 bookies had been held for spot fixing sent shockwaves across the cricketing world, drawing a torrent of quips and comments on social media.
Sources told TOI that Friday's match between Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and RR was also under the scanner. While Neeraj Kumar, in a press conference, ruled out the involvement of any other cricketer, team management person or owner in the racket, sources told this paper that several groups of bookies were operating in all cities and as per their information, other players too had taken money from bookies but did not exactly carry out their bidding.
Delhi police traced a call in mid-March this year made from aDubai number, while tracking a gangster, where they heard people talk about signs to be used in the cricket ground. Neeraj Kumar called this a "chance intercept". The information was developed and it was learnt that the underworld was using bookies in IPL to make crores of rupees and some players were conniving with them.
"We had information about bookies from Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab and other states involved in this spot fixing, who were working on directions of the underworld," said S N Srivastava, special commissioner (special cell). After the intercept, a team of Inspector Badrish Dutt, who was later found dead along with his live-in partner Geeta Sharma in Gurgaon last week, and Inspector Kailash Bisht started intercepting calls of some bookies. In all, sources say some 40 phones including those of these three cricketers and others, were put under surveillance from the beginning of this IPL, that is, April 3.
Senior police brass monitored the highly secret investigations on a daily basis, so that players and bookies were arrested with maximum evidence in hand. Delhi police teams watched all suspicious matches from the stadium and at its office, recording every over bowled by the players under investigation.
Special cell teams were in Mumbai on Wednesday night, watching the match between Mumbai and Rajasthan to establish whether Ankeet Chavan would give away more than 14 runs — as discussed by bookies in phone conversations intercepted by the phones. Police got their confirmation when Ankeet gave away 15 runs in his second over. Special cell officers then called up the police brass in Delhi, seeking directions to arrest the suspects. After initial formalities, Sreesanth was arrested from Carter Road on Thursday morning at 5am, Chandila from outside Intercontinental Mumbai, when he was returning to team hotel Trident after meeting bookies, and Ankeet Chavan, who was sleeping in his room at Trident around 7.30am. Both the hotels are on Marine Drive and close to Wankhede Stadium.
The players, now suspended by the BCCI, have been brought to Delhi and charged under section 420 (cheating) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC. Section 420 invites a maximum punishment of seven years. Officials say they are also likely to be booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), which could land them in jail without bail and their confessions before a DCP level officer will be admissible in court. Police are also looking for more bookies based in Delhi and Mumbai.
Police said Sreesanth, Chandila and Ankeet had bowled fixed overs for payments of Rs 60 lakh, Rs 40 lakh and Rs 40 lakh, respectively. But in the May 9 match against Kings XI, Chandila forgot to signal to the bookies that he was about to 'fix' the over, due to which bookies were not happy and demanded that he returned the advance of Rs 20 lakh, said officials. Sreesanth, Chandila, Chavan and 11 bookies were produced in the court of CMM Lokesh Kumar in Saket on Thursday evening and were remanded to five days custody with the special cell.
"As a lover of cricket myself, I am announcing with anger and sadness that three players of Rajasthan Royals and 11 bookies have been arrested in a spot fixing scandal," Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar said in his press conference.
Sources said the main link between the bookie group in India and the underworld in Dubai was Ashwini Agarwal, a wellknown name in betting circles. He has been arrested.
Other main arrested bookies have been identified as Chandresh Patel of Andheri West (Mumbai), who was dealing with Sreesanth through another arrested bookie Jiju Janardhan alias Biju; Amit Singh from Ahmedabad (who had played for Rajasthan Royal till the last season and was dealing with Chandila); Manan (dealing with Ankeet). These four were held from Intercontinental hotel in Mumbai.
From Delhi, police have picked up Deepak Kumar, Rakesh alias Rocky and others.
Neeraj Kumar gave explosive details of the modus operandi followed by bookies and the cricketers, giving audio-visual proof of three IPL matches which were manipulated.
Officials say the bookies gave the players specific approval codes which were used to signify a compromised over during the matches. Kumar said, "It was information that we had that the Mumbai underworld was indulging in match-fixing or spot fixing and contacting a number of bookies and some players are mixed up," he said. Kumar said the mastermind of the racket was 'sitting abroad' .
Sources say Tiger Memon was controlling the operation from Dubai and the bookies arrested were just the small fish. "They don't know much about the bigger bookie in India who was in touch with Memon," said asource.