Investigations into the spot-fixing scandal engulfing the Indian Premier League have claimed that more than 50 phone calls were allegedly routed through Pakistan during negotiations for the fixing.
Although police remain tight-lipped, they said the phone records of bookies and players showed they were in touch with two Dubai-based bookies, Sunil Abhay Chandani alias Sunil Dubai and Suresh Nagar alias Junior Kolkata.
They added that evidence in their possession suggests both Chandani and Nagar acted as a link between bookies in India and Karachi and Lahore based bookies. Investigators of the Special Cell of police pointed out that Chandani travelled between New Delhi, Mumbai, Dubai and London.
Meanwhile, consternation in India over the spot fixing scandal refused to die as more sordid details about the multi-billion dollar IPL cash cow were revealed.
The principal manipulator of the scandal, Indian fast bowler S Sreesanth, it is now known, used a towel to signal the bookies when they should place bets. Although police sources said all three players playing for the Rajasthan Royal franchise – Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chava confessed – their lawyers hotly contested this.
Sreesanth’s lawyer, Deepak Prakash, voiced doubt about the credibility of the evidence. “My client has no idea of what was going on. The charges are frivolous and baseless. Sreesanth has not spoken to any of the bookies. There are no tapes which have his voice,” he said, in reference to apparent recordings of his client speaking to the bookmakers.
On the infamous towel, Prakash said the “towel is a lucky charm for Sreesanth. He has worn one in 90% of his matches. It is no evidence.” When asked why Sreesanth did not wear it in the first over he bowled, Prakash replied, “Only when you sweat will you ask for a towel. In the first over, there was no sweat.”
More than 20 people have also been arrested all over India in connection to the scandal for questioning.
Rajasthan Royals team management, including the owners – actress Shilpa Shetty and her businessman husband Raj Kundra and captain Rahul Dravid may be called for an inquiry “if there is a need,” according to senior New Delhi police officials.
The role of the team management has come into focus after spinner Chandila’s lawyer alleged it was aware of players being approached by bookies.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has also asked New Delhi police to share evidence and call records of the three players to verify their claims. Many players, current and former, have suggested that the culprits be banned from cricket for life.
Cases are being prepared under the Organised Crimes Act which could imprison a convicted person for a maximum seven-year period.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2013.
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