Mumbai’s crime branch headquarters at Palton Road in the heart of Sobo is not the most gratifying place to visit unless you are there for a cup of tea with joint commissioner of police Himanshu Roy as Vindoo Dara Singh and Gurunath Meiyappan may have found out to their dismay last week.
To be arrested and put behind bars, even if for a few days, compounds the agony. Meiyappan, I learn from the Sunday edition of this paper, had to sleep on the floor without the air-conditioned comfort he is used to. It couldn’t have been any different for Vindoo.
It is not my case that either Vindoo or Meiyappan is guilty of spot-fixing matches in the Indian T20 League. Investigations during the tenure of arrest will have to be followed by formal lodging of charges of any wrongdoing. Subsequently the courts will decide. That is due process of law and fair.
Even so, the information put out by the police as yet is unflattering of these two. Vindoo seems to be driven by a pathological impulse to gamble so much so that he had allegedly become a bookmaker. Meiyappan, the police tell us, loved a flutter frequently and the amounts were immodest to suggest that it was not just time pass.
Under the penal code as exists, neither is a grave crime per se if the circumstances were not exceptional. Meiyappan bet with Vindoo and his proximity to the Chennai team begs the question whether he or both could not have used privileged information for gain through nefarious means.
Finding out the facts of the case are best left to the cops and the judiciary though it does make one wonder why two people reasonably well-placed in life would be so tempted to risk so much. But that takes us up the dark alley of trying to understand human greed which I will desist from pontificating about. It exists.
However, the desire to `fix’ things is not restricted to cricket. The Hindustan Times last Thursday front-paged two interesting stories which highlight this. One was Floor Space Index ``out of thin air’’ (according to municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte) for a building project in Parel. The other revealed that files on 314 buildings in Wards H and K had gone missing. One need hardly add why.
Elsewhere, in a story in Times of India last week, 11 RTO inspectors were reported to have requested state transport commissioner V N More not to promote them to higher ranks. As a senior officer told the paper, ``…`they can) be the main interface with the public, agents, car dealers, driving school owners and commercial permit holders. It has a lot of perks.’’
But to get back to the cricket, and if you are among the millions feeling aggrieved, I offer a panacea to get over the blues.
Get down to the maidans at Shivaji Park, or Azad, Cross and Oval as I did on Sunday to watch kids in action, get engaged in their passion. They make mistakes, bowl no-balls, drop catches, play terrible shots: but with uncontaminated innocence.
Call it a romanticist's optimism, I would like to believe that 99.999 per cent of these kids will retain their sense of probity even if innocence is lost in the hurly-burly of life. Cricket, as we love it, will survive however dismal and gloomy the current scenario appears.