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Betting biggies move freely

cricket Updated: Aug 31, 2010 00:31 IST
Vijaita Singh
Vijaita Singh
Hindustan Times
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Nothing seems to have changed even 10 years after the Delhi Police busted an India-based international betting syndicate to prove that match-fixing did exist and top players were involved in it.

Police claim there is an active betting racket in the city but their hands are tied as there are no stringent laws to book the people involved. Police sources also told the Hindustan Times that electronic evidence was not permissible under the Gambling Act, under which these bookies are arrested, so they are almost immediately released on bail. There is a fine of only R200 or a maximum of six months imprisonment.

“We do not keep a record of the bookies,” said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity. Police sources said they were aware of “mass scale” money being pumped into the betting syndicate (Mazhar Majeed indicated to the News of the World reporters that he fronted for an Indian syndicate) but there was not much they could do.

“First it is a bailable offence, second the electronic evidence is not admissible in court. We have to keep a check on the activities of these bookies but they take advantage of the law. Since international markets are also involved, we cannot do much,” said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity.

In July 2000, the Delhi Police accidentally broke the international racket when they stumbled upon a phone conversation between a London-based bookie and the then South Africa captain, Hansie Cronje, who later died mysteriously in a plane crash.

The Crime Branch of the Delhi Police incidentally, is still investigating the case and said they were waiting for information on Sanjeev Chawla from authorities in UK. Chawla is an important link in the case. There is a red corner notice issued against Chawla (he will be arrested if he uses his real passport to travel through any airport in the world).

Former police commissioner KK Paul, who investigated the Cronje case, said the ICC started to reform cricket only after the 2000 scandal.

“It was after this that the ICC came out with a code of conduct for all the players. It brought in many reforms,” said Paul who was then Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime).

Delhi Police sources named at least five big bookies in the Capital. All own plush homes in Delhi and one also owns a restaurant.

They are all known by aliases. Some of the big names doing the rounds are 'Chicken', 'Dalwala', 'Bobby', 'Dhaba' and 'Puri'.

Police said Indian Premier League (IPL) matches proved a big boon for members of betting syndicates. “It was big event for bookies as huge sums of money are involved and bets run into hundreds of crores of rupees. There is no account of such money,” said the officer.