Bollywood actor Vindoo Dara Singh, son of late wrestler-actor Dara Singh, was arrested in connection with the spot-fixing scandal was produced at Esplanade Court in Mumbai. HT photo/Kunal Patil
Based on leads from their interrogation of disgraced Rajasthan Royals bowler S Sreesanth, the Delhi Police are closing in on as many as four cricketers playing for two other teams, including a foreign player.
A top level police source said the players could be arrested this week. Sreesanth, held in Mumbai on May 16 and flown to Delhi for questioning, has been interrogated by police commissioner Neeraj Kumar on at least three separate occasions.
“During his questioning, he has named other players attached to two other teams. Since their recorded conversations do not figure in our telephone intercepts, we will move in on them only after we have enough proof which is being gathered. Fresh arrests will be made soon,” said the officer.
"According to Sreesanth, he, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila were the only three Rajasthan Royals players involved in spot-fixing," he said.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police told a court that they had booked arrested cricketers and bookmakers for criminal breach of trust, a charge which could land them in jail for life if proven.
The scam continued to unravel, with Bollywood making its first direct appearance: Virendra (Vindoo) Randhawa, small-time actor and son of legendary muscleman Dara Singh, was arrested in Mumbai for his links to bookies.
Police said they were investigating whether Vindoo, best known for winning the third season of reality show Bigg Boss, was a dealmaker between cricketers and bookmakers.
A picture of Vindoo with Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's wife Sakshi at a stadium watching an IPL match fuelled stories that Sakshi would be questioned by the crime branch. Asked at a news conference if Sakshi and others seen with Vindoo would be questioned, Mumbai joint commissioner of police (Crime) Himanshu Roy would only reply that investigations were at a very preliminary stage and that it was too premature to comment.
Apart from Vindoo, 49, police also arrested Alpeshkumar Patel, an alleged hawala operator and Prem Taneja, who is "well known in the betting circuit".
Patel is thought to have been in touch with arrested bookies, and police have recovered Rs. 1.28 crore from his office that was used for hawala transactions.
"The monetary transactions that took place between various 'parties' involved in the fixing across several countries would use Patel's hawala channel to make or receive payments," said a Mumbai crime branch officer.
Delhi Police identified a 27-year-old air hostess with Air India as Sreesanth's Jaipur-based girlfriend and the recipient of several gifts which he had procured with money received as payment for spot-fixing. The cricketer is understood to have spent R1.95 lakh on one night of shopping.
"We questioned her about their relationship briefly during which she told us that the two had met aboard a flight three years ago. She was apparently schooled in Dehradun with the wife of Indian cricket captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni," a Delhi cop said.
The Delhi Police are planning to use the criminal background of ex-murder convict Sunil Bhatia, 42 - one of the 13 bookies arrested recently from Nagpur - to justify the slapping of stringent MCOCA charges against the 18 men arrested by them in the case so far.
Amid all this, the Supreme Court pulled up the cricket board for irregularities in the T20 league.
"The problem is lackadaisical approach of BCCI and it must stop," the bench said, adding, "Let cricket remain a gentleman's game and not tainted by irregularities and scams." The court directed the one-man commission appointed by the BCCI to submit its report within 15 days to cricket body.