The investigation into the spot-fixing scandal took another turn on Wednesday, with the name of Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) chief executive officer Gurunath Meiyappan, who also happens to be Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief N Srinivasan’s son-in-law, cropping up in reports from Mumbai Police’s investigation cells.
While television channels were agog with speculation about probable, if tenuous, links between Meiyappan and Vindoo Dara Singh Randhawa, who was taken into police custody on Tuesday in connection with the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing scandal, Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy clarified that it was too “premature to say with any finality that Meiyappan has links or is involved with any betting syndicate.”
He said Vindoo (in custody for placing bets) had made calls to Meiyappan, and that’s that. “So we may or may not call Meiyappan in person to ascertain as to why these calls were made so frequently,” he said.
“Meiyappan's family is into film production, and Vindoo says he met him five-six years ago at a party and they hit off. But then, Vindoo says Meriyappan does not have much knowledge of cricket. Of course this has to be verified,” said Roy.
The Juhu house of the 49-year-old actor, who specialises in playing bit-parts in television serials and films, was also searched and police claimed to have chanced upon a mobile phone reportedly belonging to a bookie who goes by the name of Pawan. The police also confiscated tablet PCs and laptops from the residence.
However, while briefing the media, Mumbai police stayed away from making any definite statements, both officially and unofficially, with regard to Vindoo being active in the spot-fixing scandal.
According to Roy, Vindoo has admitted that he had facilitated the getaway of two bookies last week when the heat was turned on bookmakers in Mumbai. He also admitted to raking in around Rs 17 lakh in the last match and to having a betting account in the name of Jack.
Vindoo got addicted to betting seven-eight years ago after a chance meeting with a bookie and since then he had been betting not just on IPL matches but on other cricket matches as well. In fact, he has also confessed that his addiction is so intense that he has been placing bets for others also. For this, he used to get a commission for winning, police said.
On the issue of Vindoo naming Bollywood celebrities, Roy pointed out that the son of wrestler-actor Dara Singh “is a part of the film industry, and it is natural that his phone book will contain numbers of people from show-business. So far, we have not come across any evidence pointing to the film fraternity indulging in betting or spot-fixing.”
Interestingly, police also evaded answering questions related to cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni's wife, Sakshi, who was photographed cheering for CSK along with Vindoo.
Meanwhile, the police custody of six bookies arrested in connection with the spot-fixing scandal was extended till June 5, with the court slamming the crime branch for conducting a “deficient probe in the case”.
Additional Metropolitan Magistrate M N Saleem said, “Despite ample opportunities provided, the investigating officer has not pointed out who has been cheated and why.” The magistrate was referring to the cheating and forgery charges slapped on the accused.
After the Supreme Court reprimanded the BCCI on Tuesday for its “lackadaisical approach in dealing with irregularities,” the Income-Tax Department in Delhi on Wednesday announced that it would carry out a probe into the alleged hawala and illegal cash transactions of unaccounted monies.
The revenue department has already got into touch with the Delhi Police and has started procedures for tax evasion probes against the arrested IPL players S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, as well as Vindoo.