Cricketers are among 26 charged under organised crime Act

Indian pacer S. Sreesanth and his two former Rajasthan Royals teammates are among the 26 accused who have been slapped with stringent provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (Mcoca) in the spot-fixing case. The Delhi Police said the accused were part of a larger betting syndicate being controlled by top fugitive Dawood Ibrahim and his trusted lieutenant Chhota Shakeel. The underworld dons have also been named as accused.

“The accused cricketers, including Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, knowingly facilitated or abetted the operation of this international organised crime syndicate and therefore, they get covered under the relevant Mcoca provisions,” said a police officer.

Explaining the reason for invoking Sections 3 and 4 of the Mcoca, the officer said the chain of bookies and the rules of betting both worked in an organised manner and the accused had — individually or collectively — derived pecuniary benefits through active participation in the conspiracy. “At least one player was even intimidated and coerced by the bookies into toeing their line and underperforming during the IPL matches,” the officer said.

The Mcoca enacted in Maharashtra in 1999 was adopted in Delhi during the tenure of the former Police Commissioner, Ajai Raj Sharma, in 2002. The law was brought into operation to put a curb on organised crime in the capital.

Police investigations have revealed that alleged bookies like Ashwini Aggrawal alias Tinku Mandi and his accomplice Sunil Bhatia were in direct touch with Dawood and Chhota Shakeel allegedly operating from Pakistan and Dubai.

Bhatia and Mandi also have multiple cases registered against them, The Special Cell investigators have managed to link certain phone calls between these bookies and the underworld figures on the basis of which they have now been formally accused of their complicity in the spot-fixing case.

Chhota Shakeel, whose name had also cropped up during investigations into the 2000 match-fixing scandal initially probed by the Delhi Police, is suspected to be running the entire betting racket through a large network of bookies like Mandi and conduits for the past two decades at the instance of Dawood. “D Company men even demarcate jurisdictions among the bookies to ensure smooth operations and avoid any bad blood,” said a police officer.

“Since the underworld has laid down its own set of rules to smoothly run the betting and match/spot-fixing rackets, anyone not complying with it is at the risk of facing adverse consequences. We are also probing to ascertain whether some bookies who did not fall in line were eliminated or harmed by the underworld in any way,” said another officer.

Bail plea moved

PTI reports:

Sreesanth on Tuesday moved a fresh bail application before a Delhi court after the police invoked the Mcoca against him.

Additional Sessions Judge Sanjiv Jain issued notice to the police and posted it for hearing on June 7.

In the bail plea, Sreesanth said: “By no stretch of imagination can the Mcoca be invoked against him as there is no evidence to link him with spot-fixing.”