Apart from the three cricketers, S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, arrested for alleged spot-fixing on Thursday, eight players from different teams including Rajasthan Royals, are under scanner and their roles are being probed.
Three have been identified as Kevon Cooper, Brad Hogg and Siddharth Trivedi. Theirnames cropped up during interrogation of arrested players and bookies. “Whether they were directly involved or were just approached by bookies is a matter of investigation. Their names came up along with five other players during interrogation of bookies,” said a senior police officer.
Over the role of franchisee owner Shilpa Shetty or Raj Kundra or captain Rahul Dravid, the officer said that they have no reasons to invite them for questioning. “They have no role in this,” said the officer.
The investigators said Sreesanth, Chandila and Chavan have admitted to their involvement in spot-fixing. “I have made a mistake and I repent it,” Sreesanth reportedly told the interrogators. His lawyer Deepak Prakash, however, claimed that the police have not found any direct evidence against his client. He also declined to endorse Sreesanth’s confession. “They have to confess before the court. The police can say anything, it has no value at all. He is innocent. We will apply for bail,” said Prakash.
Delhi Police Commissioner along with senior police officials of special cell interrogated the players lodged at Lodhi Colony office. Kumar then met Union home secretary R K Singh and apprised him of the progress in the case.
After meeting Singh at the North Block, Kumar told reporters that Sreesanth and his two other team mates were cooperating with the investigators.
Kumar reiterated on Friday that the probe has not yet confirmed the involvement of any other player or franchisee in the spot-fixing. He also junked media reports speculating links between underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and the spot-fixing racket. “We have said a Dubai number was used. The number could have been used from India itself or some other country. We have not named this group or said that other players or franchises are involved,” he said.
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has congratulated the city police for achieving a breakthrough in the case.
Meanwhile, the investigators said Mumbai-based bookie Chandresh Patel, who was arrested on Thursday in Mumbai, has revealed that the spot-fixing was planned two months before the IPL commenced. “Patel first contacted the bookies in the capital and conduits Jiju Janardhan and Amit Kumar and a few others. Thereafter, they started approaching vulnerable players,” the police said.
Patel told the police that he had approached Kevon Cooper and Siddharth Trivedi, but they refused to take part in the spot-fixing. “Parties were organised. The first party was organised in April in Mumbai where they had invited several players, including six from the Royals, but everybody did not turn up,” sources said.
Another party was organised on April 6 at Country Club in Manesar, Haryana, where the bookies convinced Chandila to join the bandwagon against a bribe of Rs 20 lakh. He was asked to rope in a few more players, including Kevon Cooper and Siddharth Trivedi. Patel then organised another party at Jaipur on April 8 where Chandila introduced Ankeet Chavan to the bookies.
Amit Singh, who represented the Royals in the previous edition of the IPL, is learnt to have played a key role in the deals.
He told the interrogators that the Delhi Daredevils versus Rajasthan Royals match in last year’s IPL was fixed. “In the last two overs, Rajasthan Royals had to score 12 with eight wickets in hand, but Hogg, who was batting, was asked not to score,” Amit Singh told the police. The investigators also claimed to have identified locations where the money was stashed.