Three suspected bookies were arrested on Thursday from a Kanpur hotel which hosted players of Gujarat Lions and Daredevils who clashed in the first Indian Premier League (IPL) match held in the Uttar Pradesh city, police said.
Police are also likely to question two Gujarat Lions players who were allegedly named by the suspected bookies.
The arrests have raised suspicion of betting in the cash-rich tournament that was blighted by corruption scandals involving players and officials in 2013 and led to a massive shake-up of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Gujarat Lions found a place in the IPL line-up last year after a Suprme Court-apppointed panel suspended the Chennai Superkings Rajasthan Royals for spot-fixing. The other new team is Rising Pune Supergiant.
Cash and phones
Police found Rs 40.90 lakh in cash and five mobile phones from the suspects –identified as Ramesh Nayan Shah, a businessman from Thane Mumbai, Ramesh Kumar and Vikas Chauhan, both from Kanpur, said the city’s senior superintendent of police Akash Kulhari.
Shah and Vikas were arrested from a room on the 17th floor of the city’s only five-star hotel ‘Landmark’ where both teams stayed. Ramesh was arrested from the Green Park stadium, the SSP said.
Police indicated that the suspected bookies might have succeeded in placing bets on the match. The the accused were remanded in judicial custody later in the day.
Ramesh Kumar, who has a contract of putting up hoardings in the stadium, had booked the room for Shah, police said.
According to police, Shah was in touch with one Bunty, a racket kingpin from Ajmer, to whom he used to pass on information following which bets were placed. A police team was in Ajmer to arrest Bunty.
Players’ alleged role
During questioning, Shah allegedly disclosed the names of two players of Gujarat Lions with whom he was in touch. He had sent a WhatsApp message to Bunty naming both of them claiming that they were ‘set’ and will do as asked, said police sources.
In one WhatsApp message, Shah mentioned that Gujarat Lions would lose the match even after scoring 200 runs. Police are withholding the names of the two players.
Both Gujarat and Delhi have already been knocked out of this IPL edition.
The BCCI issued a statement claiming that a betting bid was “foiled”.
“The anti corruption unit of the BCCI has been tracking activities of certain individuals, as a result of which, three suspects were arrested in Kanpur, on Thursday. The Uttar Pradesh police crime branch could successfully foil the alleged betting attempts of the accused,” it said.
“This was an outcome of the ACU of the BCCI, having worked closely with various law enforcement agencies, who will continue further investigations, in this matter.”
After the match-fixing scandal broke in 2013, India international S Sreesanth along with domestic cricketers Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila were arrested on charges of spot-fixing by the Delhi Police. All three were playing for Rajasthan Royals.
The erstwhile BCCI president N Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan -- the former Team Principal of Chennai Super Kings -- was also arrested.
Meiyappan and Royals co-owner Raj Kundra were later banned from cricket administration for life for being involved in spot-fixing. The three cricketers were also banned for life.
(With PTI inputs)