Payments of Rs. 40–60 lakh made; phone intercepts and match videos link players to bookies

Over a decade after the match-fixing scandal involving Hansie Cronje rocked the cricketing world, the Delhi Police Special Cell has smashed a spot-fixing racket in the ongoing Indian Premier League matches with the arrest of Indian pacer S. Sreesanth and two of his teammates from Rajasthan Royals along with 11 bookies and middlemen. The cricketers — all bowlers — had allegedly struck a deal with the bookies to fix the number of runs they would give in a particular over for payments ranging from Rs. 40 lakh to Rs. 60 lakh.

All the accused, who were arrested from Mumbai, Delhi and Gurgaon, were produced before a Delhi magistrate at his residence on Thursday evening. They were remanded in five days police custody. The Special Cell has seized 51 mobile phones from the accused, besides five laptops and a recording device.

The main architects of the spot-fixing scandal had roped in the cricketers through their conduits living abroad. Call intercepts with the police suggest that the main conspirators had suspected links with the Mumbai underworld and were operating from countries such as the U.K., U.A.E. and Pakistan.

Police investigations have revealed that Sreesanth was paid Rs. 40 lakh, his teammate Ajit Chandila was given an advance of Rs. 20 lakh, and Ankeet Chavan was offered Rs. 60 lakh. The spot fixing was done during three of the IPL matches. All payments were made through the hawala channel and would be probed by the Enforcement Directorate.

The Special Cell has tapped close to 2,000 calls running into over 100 hours of conversations among the bookies and the now-disgraced cricketers who were arrested in Mumbai in the early hours of Thursday.

The breakthrough was achieved in April after an electronic surveillance team chanced upon a lead while eavesdropping on a conversation between a bookie and a Mumbai underworld suspect having links with top fugitive Dawood Ibrahim. Incidentally, the team comprised Inspector Badrish Dutt — who along with his live-in partner died of gun shot wounds in Gurgaon last Saturday.

The call records of a bookie under surveillance led the police to a wide network of such elements operating from Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab and other States. Some of the bookies were conspiring with the three cricketers to hoodwink punters. “We found that a group of bookies was in touch with Rajasthan Royals players…

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