Ramesh Vyas’s transformation from a helper in a modest kitchen of a roadside eatery to an alleged key fixer for bookies and handlers, who called the shots in matches played in the world’s richest cricket league, took all of 12 months.
The police allege that he was in direct contact with the close confidants of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim who “fixed” the rules of the game.
Fiftytwo-year-old Vyas, who, according to the police, managed the network of bookies in Southern India, is one of six children of an owner of a ‘dhaba’ at Cavel Cross Lane in Mumbai. He dropped out of school after Class IX. Way back in 1978, he started working as a cloth broker and a couple of years later, got married to a woman with whom he has three daughters and a son. He then opened a cloth shop, following which he ran a public telephone booth for several years. He also tried his hand in the catering business, which did not yield him desirable dividends.
During interrogation, Vyas allegedly revealed that in mid-2012, he learnt that Devendra Kothari, an accused bookie having links with the underworld, and his accomplice Mohammed Feroz Farid Ansari, had been arrested in Mumbai.
Feroz was allegedly found facilitating communication between Kothari, Chandresh Jain alias Jupiter and their handlers operating from Mumbai, Pakistan and Dubai.
Lured by the prospect of making quick money, Vyas purportedly planned to offer his services to the bookies. “Since he earlier ran a PCO, he knew how to connect calls,” said a police officer. The accused then contacted Jupiter and was roped into the business. Vyas then allegedly bought 25 mobile phones and several SIM cards on fake identification documents to set up an illegal phone exchange for connecting calls between bookies in India, Pakistan and Dubai during cricket matches. He charged Rs. 800 per line per hour for his services and received payments through hawala.
Through him, Jupiter would contact suspected D-Company conduits Javed Chutani, Salman, Kashif and Rehmat on Pakistan numbers and one Dilip Bhai on Dubai numbers. Chutani, who allegedly supervises the real estate business of Dawood, shuttles between Pakistan and Dubai. Police investigations revealed that he also built ties with Indian bookies — Lokesh, Badri and Sanjay. The accused also acted as a mediator between the Pakistani and Indian bookies.
However, Vyas was once threatened by a Pakistani bookie Ahtesam if he attempted to rope in his accomplices. He subsequently contacted Delhi-based alleged bookie Ashwini Aggrawal alias Tinku Mandi and offered to help him to connect to the bookies and handlers operating from abroad, but the latter declined the suggestion as he himself was already in touch with key players.
When the Mumbai Police arrested him in May, he was allegedly found using 92 mobile phones. He had been earning Rs.4 lakh a month through connecting calls. According to the police, he had close links with the bookies who fixed spots during the Indian Premier League matches this year.