A bookie who was allegedly accepting bets on Indian Premier League (IPL) matches was arrested here today and cash as well as gold worth Rs 1.54 crore was seized from his possession, police said.
"Vinod Mulchandani, a resident of satellite area, has been arrested for accepting bets on IPL-6 matches. Cash worth Rs 1.28 crore, 10 gold biscuits (weighing 1 kg) worth Rs 26 lakh, 12 cell phones, 6 electronic board chargers, 2 laptops, 2 internet dongles, an I-pod and a driving license were recovered from his possession," Crime Branch, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) A K Sharma told reporters here.
Primary interrogation of Mulchandani has revealed that his accomplice Sheetal Shah and other bookies Jeetu Tharad, Rakesh Rajkot, Kiran Thakkar and Chirag Maninagar also accepted bets on cricket matches and passed on information to a top-level bookie in Mumbai.
Police are on the lookout for his accomplice. According to police, Mulchandani's network was spread across Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Amreli and Ahmedabad, from where he used to accept bets from punters and sub-agents on cricket matches.
"An SMS from an unknown number regarding Hyderabad losing a certain match 10-15 days ago was found from his mobile. He was asked to make maximum gains from the information from the SMS. We will trace that number and question him further to seek more details," Sharma said adding that they are inquiring if he is connected with match fixing in any way.
The arrest comes after Gujarat government issued an advisory to police chiefs of all districts to crack down on bookies and bettors.
The Gujarat link has figured prominently in the multi-crore IPL match fixing scandal.
Gujarat cricket player Amit Singh was arrested by the special cell of Delhi police last Thursday, for offering money to Indian pacer S Sreesanth and his Rajasthan Royals teammates -- Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan --- for indulging in spot-fixing in at least three IPL matches as per arrangements with bookies who have underworld connections abroad.
Following their arrest, another bookie Manan Bhatt from the state was also arrested.
A day before Mulchandani was arrested, he was in Diu and was to leave for Mount Abu, police said, adding that he used to frequently change destinations to negate police threat.
"In addition to accessing his call data records, voices of his partners, which have been recorded in his cellphones, will be sent to Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for further examination. Also laptops recovered from him will be examined throughly," Sharma said.
The 43-year-old, born in Junagadh, is a Class-VIII dropout. He has been involved in cricket betting for the last 15 years. After dropping out from school, he started selling lottery tickets before he shifted to garments business in which he suffered huge losses, police said, adding that thereafter he got involved in accepting bets for cricket matches.
Sharma said that he ran cricket betting via an angadia (courier) centre which he had set up in Bhavnagar.
Police said that in 1996, Bhavnagar 'B' division police registered a gambling case against him and in 2000, Bhavnagar 'C' division police booked him for accepting bets on cricket matches.
Thereafter, in 2008, Bhavnagar 'B' division police again arrested him and last year, Bopal police, which comes under Ahmedabad rural police, arrested him for allegedly accepting bets on IPL-5 cricket matches, police added.
Yesterday, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) S K Nanda had said that the home department has instructed Police Commissioners and Superintendents of Police (SPs) to collect evidence against those involved in betting in any sport or are involved in any form of gambling.