Terror tab led Delhi Police to spot-fixing in T20 League

  • Jatin Anand & Karn Pratap Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: May 17, 2013 08:40 IST
  • S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan

    S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan and 11 bookies after being produced at the residence of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Saket court complex in New ...

  • S Sreesanth's father Shantakumaran Nair

    Cricketer S Sreesanth's father Shantakumaran Nair in his house in Kochi. PTI photo

  • S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan

    A file photo of S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan, and 11 bookies after being produced at the residence of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Saket ...

  • Sreesanth

    Protestors set fire to posters bearing portraits of cricketer Sreesanth and two other Twenty20 cricketers during a protest against their alleged involvement in spot-fixing, in ...

  • Ankeet Chavan

    Rajasthan Royals players Rahul Dravid and Ankeet Chavan in action during the practice session ahead of their T20 league match with Mumbai Indians at Wankhede ...

  • S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila

    FILE PHOTO: Rajasthan Royals' former players S Sreesanth and Ajit Chandila during a practice session at Jaipur. HT phot/Vipin Kumar

  • Neeraj Kumar

    Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar addresses the press on T20 league spot-fixing in New Delhi. HT photo/Sonu Mehta

  • spot-fixing

    Protestors shout slogans against the three cricketers who are allegedly involved in spot-fixing in Bangalore. PTI photo

  • Ajit Chandila

    FILE PHOTO: Rajasthan Royals' former player Ajit Chandila celebrates with other teammates after the dismissal of Mumbai Indians captian Ricky Ponting during a T20 league ...

  • Sreesanth

    FILE PHOTO: Rajasthan Royals' former player Sreesanth being congratulated by Siddharth Trivedi after the dismissal of Kings XI Punjab Captain Adam Gilchrist during a T20 ...

Unusually long but almost hourly phone calls, conference calls to and from three notorious betting hubs of Asia, shifting cellphone locations and talk of big, hard cash led the trail to the spot-fixing scandal that Thursday rocked the latest season of India’s domestic T20 league.

By their own admission, Delhi Police's special cell sleuths were keeping tabs on the unceasing activities of the Mumbai underworld and its possible involvement in funding acts of terror in India.

When they stumbled upon “hundreds of hours of recorded conversations” in early April, they thought a plan for a possible terror attack during the league was being laid out.

After they found that the conversations were being held between men in Pakistan’s Lahore and Karachi cities and Dubai in UAE, investigators stepped up surveillance.

They knew they were onto something big when conversations repeatedly threw up words such as IPL, bhai, money, bookie and target (players).

"Initially, we thought that a sleeper cell was seeking funds for an attack on a crowded urban centre then we realised that it could be a cricket stadium too," said an officer.

"It was only when we began focusing on repeated use of words such as bookie and player that we understood this was an international betting operation. Ajit Chandila was the first person whose phone was put on surveillance."

An allegedly inebriated S Sreesanth was the first of the three Rajasthan Royal cricketers to be nabbed after being lured to the Opium Den pub in south Mumbai's Trident Hotel on the promise "some female company", officers associated with the operation told HT.

"When he was confronted and asked about his role, he claimed he wasn't involved. In fact, he thought using a phone registered in his friend's name would prevent us from connecting him to the conspiracy," the officer told HT on condition of anonymity.

The police said claims that one or the other underworld don was responsible for the latest scandal to hit the controversy-prone league would be pure speculation at the present juncture. Sources, however, claim a retired cricketer of south Asian-origin based outside India could the mastermind.

Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar said more details were expected to emerge over the next five days after the questioning of the cricketers.

 

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