Needle of suspicion on betting racket

Shifting of matches to Mumbai incomprehensible

Needle of suspicion on betting racket

Workers removing chairs, banners, hoardings and equipment from Chinnaswamy stadium following the shifting of  IPL T20 matches to Mumbai on Monday. dh photo

According to a senior police officer involved with the investigation, the choice of Mumbai as the venue for semifinals is ‘‘incomprehensible’’.

‘‘As far as security is concerned, Mumbai is certainly not any safer than Bangalore. But the hurried shifting of matches to that city has raised doubts to that effect (betting angle),’’ the officer told Deccan Herald.

Home Minister V S Acharya confirmed that the role of the ‘‘betting lobby’’ was being investigated. ‘‘The police are exploring all angles including the possible involvement of the betting lobby,” Acharya told reporters in Bangalore.

He said it was clear that whoever had planted the crude explosive devices around the stadium had tried to create a scare. ‘‘Some of the objects recovered did not have detonators or even wires. A bag containing sodium chloride (common salt) was found near one site,” Acharya said. He refused to divulge more details stating that it would hamper the investigations.

‘No links to serial blasts’

He ruled out any links between the Chinnaswamy stadium blasts and the serial explosions that had rocked the city on July 25, 2008, in which one person was killed. Acharya said the State government tried its best to convince the Indian Premier League (IPL) authorities to retain Bangalore as the venue for the semi finals. ‘‘We assured them water-tight security and also that the entire Chinnaswamy stadium and surrounding areas would be sanitised before the next game," he said.

‘‘However, they took the decision to shift from Bangalore for their own reasons. I will not comment further on that," the minister added.

Security lapses

Pushed to the back foot after the incident, the City police though admit that there were a few security lapses ‘‘here and there", but they are quick to point out that the bombs were not meant to kill people.

‘‘You know that these were low-intensity blasts, but what has shocked us is the way in which the matches were shifted out. Had they chosen Chennai or any other City as the replacement, it would have been understandable," said a senior police officer, indicating the presence of a betting lobby. 

Contending that the City police were ‘‘not at all consulted” about security arrangements for the semifinals before these were shifted out, the officer alleged that some sections were not in favour of the City hosting these matches in the first place.

‘‘It appears that some sections were against Bangalore getting the chance to host the semifinals. It may be possible that they caused these blasts when their other efforts failed," he claimed. In order to buttress this possibility, the officer also said that the blasts were just aimed at creating panic among the people. Saying that the blasts were not ‘‘an amateurish work", sources said that the terror link to the blasts was not ruled out.

These blasts were carried out professionally, the crude bombs found later were wrapped in a sophisticated matter, they added.

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