Tuesday, May 21, 2013

IPL Spot Fixing Scam: Sreesanth’s Model Links Takes Probe to the Doorsteps of Bollywood

Small towns got big business to the bookies
“Sreesanth was in regular touch with people from the entertainment world. He was dating Russian models working in India and the Gulf and was in close contact with a casting agent in Bollywood,” said a crime branch officer of the Mumbai Police, who dug deep into the cricketer’s laptop, looking for clues into spot fixing that had rocked the Indian cricketing establishment.

While the information from the laptop established Sreesanth’s links with the entertainment world, bits of other information that emerged during the interrogations giving a peep into the murky dealings of bookies, have put the credibility of some of the earlier editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL) into question.

Asked if any of the persons from the entertainment world will be brought under the scope of spot fixing investigation, the crime branch officer, who requested anonymity, said, “If certain high-value transactions are to be investigated, then nothing can be ruled out.”

The investigations by the Mumbai Police have also revealed new information about how the bookies cast their net wide in the past two IPL seasons, making inroads into smaller towns, luring cash-rich traders to bet during the matches.

On Monday, the cops presented bookie Ramesh Vyas, who has links with the Dawood gang, at the metropolitan court. Vyas has been providing crucial leads to the police about spot fixing and the men behind it.

Vyas is seen as the link between bigticket money collection operation and small bookies spread all over western India. Bookies seem to be spreading their net to places where police would not even suspect them of going. Towns in Vidarbha region and Madhya Pradesh have emerged as hot centres since the past two editions of IPL. “Vyas gave information about how the operation got extended to Nagpur, Aurangabad and Bhopal in the last two seasons. Since 2009, Mumbai Police turned the heat on bookies, so they either ran away to smaller towns or brought in traders from smaller towns in their net.

“Some bookies realised that Nagpur, Bhopal and Indore were cities where they could spread out without coming under too much scrutiny. Ranji cricketer-turned-bookie Manish Guddewar (32) from Nagpur was one of the first to take up operations since 2010 IPL season. He was picked up on Sunday night and sent to Delhi. Within a day, another bookie Sunil Bhatia (41), was also arrested in Aurangabad,” said the crime branch officer.

It was also revealed that Manish was in regular touch with arrested Rajasthan Royals cricketer Ajit Chandila. It is expected that many more bookies will be picked up in the coming days and one would have a clearer picture on the extent of betting in smaller towns.

Police said investigations will continue as new information keeps pouring in from bookies. While many have been questioned and allowed to go, some are being detained for further questioning and possible arrests.

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