Pakistani links and the involvement of the Mumbai underworld have surfaced in the investigations into spot-fixing in Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in which Indian fast bowler S. Sreesanth and two of his Rajasthan Royals teammates have been arrested, police said Thursday, adding more arrests are expected.
Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila and 11 other bookies arrested for alleged spot fixing were sent to five day police custody by a Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Lokesh Kumar Sharma.
“We had information that Mumbai underworld is indulging in match-fixing or spot-fixing and have contacted a number of bookies and some players,” Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said, giving details of the arrests of three players and 11 bookies in Mumbai late Wednesday night.
“There are overseas connections and there is evidence to prove that the underworld is involved. But there is no concrete evidence of any (gang) members of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim (being involved) so far. But, it can’t be ruled out,” he said at a crowded press conference.
Asked who the individual is, he said: “We know the name but that could be the assumed name. That’s why we are not sharing with the press. The number he was using was of Dubai but you can use Dubai’s number sitting somewhere else.”
But, according to Mumbai police sources, the arrests were made on the basis of tracking phone calls, at least two dozen of which originated from Pakistan.
A couple of bookies of the total seven arrested from Mumbai are allegedly linked to Dawood, who is said to be in Pakistan, sources said.
Dawood is believed to be a veteran in cricket betting and match fixing.
The Delhi Police commissioner said the suspects were kept under watch since April and it was found that match fixers and bookies from Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab and that some players participating in the IPL were conspiring in spot-fixing.
He said these bookies used to spot the “vulnerable” players who could be easily contacted. But only three players came into their net.
While Sreesanth and his Rajasthan Royals colleagues Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, as also the 11 bookies have been charged with cheating and criminal conspiracy, Neeraj Kumar said there is a “distint possibility” the cricketers will also be booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), which deals with combating organised crime and terrorism.
Detailing the modus operandi, he said: “Bookies also told them that they would have to give indications before start of an over about giving away runs. The indications included rotate your watch, put a towel in your trousers, take some time on looking around the field, take out a locket or chain from your shirt and lift vest/shirt.”
The first incident of spot-fixing, he said, was discovered in the May 5 match between Pune Warriors and Rajasthan Royals. This was followed by the May 9 match between Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals and the May 15 match between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals.
Armed with the video clippings of the given-away runs, the police chief also read out transcripts of the conversations between the players and the bookies.
Noting they have 100 hours of audio clippings as evidence, he said that there was evidence that spot-fixing was happening in other teams as well.
The 14 arrested were sent to police custody till May 21.
Police had sought seven days police remand, contending they have collected total 55 mobile phones and laptops, and the data from laptops, all which is in code words, needs to be recovered.
They also sought custody for unearthing the entire conspiracy and to know the who are the other people or players involved in the fixing.
The fourteen accused, including Sreesath, who came with his face covered, were produced at judge’s home around 6.30 p.m. at Saket court complex.
They all were charged under section 420 (cheating) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of IPC.