Skeletons are fast tumbling out of the closet in the cricketing world. A bookie in Delhi Police custody has made a sensational revelation that he did not rig just Indian Premier League matches, but was also part of the conspiracy to fix spots and matches in the rival Indian Cricket League (ICL) and the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).
Even as eight bookies and their conduits have been arrested in the case so far, lookout circulars have now been issued against several other suspects.
The purported disclosures by alleged fixer 44-year-old Sunil Bhatia have opened a can of worms and raised suspicion on several cricketers who have played in the ICL and BPL matches in the past. Bhatia had been operating in the betting circuits since 2006, after he came out of jail where he was lodged in connection with a case.
“We cannot pursue the alleged instances of fixing during matches played in Bangladesh as it is beyond our jurisdiction. As regards ICL matches, we cannot lay our hands on the cricketers in question till we have sound proof of their complicity,” said a senior police officer.
Bhatia was arrested by the Special Cell at Aurangabad in Maharashtra along with the suspended Rajasthan Royals bowler Ajit Chandila’s accomplice and former Ranji player Manish Guddewar, besides alleged fixer Kiran Dole.
During the interrogation, Bhatia allegedly revealed that in 2007, he had contacted Baburao Yadav who played for the Hyderabad Heroes team in the ICL, that was construed by many as a rival league of the IPL. After the ICL, cricketers were banned by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Yadav went on to play in the Kolkata League and was being paid a minuscule sum. Around the same time, Bhatia allegedly offered him a place in the BPL through a contact.
The two accused then went to Bangladesh where Bhatia, a known fixer, was spotted by the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption unit.
The duo flew back to India immediately. “He [Bhatia] claims to have good relations with Bangladeshi players and has disclosed that he had fixed some of the matches in the BPL,” said the officer, adding that Bhatia had also got a temple constructed in Nagpur with the intention of cornering the daily offerings of devotees.
The police have obtained crucial leads from the arrested bookies, the most “experienced” of them being Ashwini Aggrawal alias Tinku Mandi. “He is among the new crop of bookies which came up post the match-fixing scandal in 2000. He is suspected to have strong links with the Mumbai underworld, being controlled by the handlers based in the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. Tinku was in contact with cricketer Ajit Chandila,” said another officer.
Over a dozen bookies and their associates have gone underground following a crackdown by the Special Cell. Suspecting that they might flee the country, the police officer said lookout circulars had been issued at all major airports, bus terminuses and ports. Search teams had been dispatched across the country.