India vs New Zealand: Close watch on Green Park staff after Pune curator row
After Pune curator Pandurang Salgaonkar’s suspension following a TV sting where he allegedly agrees to doctor the pitch for the second ODI, focus has shifted to Kanpur, which has a poor track record in terms of match-fixing.
Pitch curators and ground staff at the Green Park ground, venue of Sunday’s third and final ODI between India and New Zealand, are under strict vigil, and almost under detention by officials concerned.
Once India Today TV aired news on Wednesday about Pandurang Salgaonkar, all 66 ground staff at the Green Park, including five curators, were asked to switch off their mobile phones. Security agencies have reportedly put the phones of some of the key persons under surveillance.
“It’s nothing very serious. It’s a routine exercise during the match by the local agencies. Certainly the issue of ground staff, especially curators, has become crucial after what happened in Pune; keeping a strict vigil on their activities is part of our exercises,” an officer of a local intelligence unit told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity on Thursday.
He said a vigil was being kept on the activities of family members of the ground staff and curators as well. “We’ve advised the curators as well as the ground staff members not to discuss anything about the pitch even with their family members,” said the officer.
However, a member of the ground staff felt suffocated. “It’s like I am in jail. From morning, all our activities are being monitored by plainclothesmen. This has never happened to me before and I don’t know how I will act till the match is over on Sunday night,” a curator said.
The concern of the authorities is understandable. In May, three suspected bookies were arrested from the team hotel in Kanpur ahead of an Indian Premier League match between hosts Gujarat Lions and Delhi Daredevils. The Kanpur police reportedly even questioned two Gujarat Lions players who were allegedly named by the suspected bookies.
CASH, MOBILES SEIZED
Police then said they seized Rs 40.90 lakh in cash and five mobile phones from the suspects, identified as Ramesh Nayan Shah, a businessman from Thane, and two men from Kanpur, Ramesh Kumar and Vikas Chauhan.
Ramesh Kumar, who had a contract for putting up hoardings in the stadium, had booked the room for Shah, who was in touch with one Bunty, an alleged bookie from Ajmer to whom he used to pass on information following which bets were placed.
During questioning, Shah allegedly mentioned the names of two Gujarat Lions players, claiming he was in touch with them. Shah had sent a WhatsApp message to Bunty naming the players and claiming they were ‘set’ and will do as asked, police sources had claimed. Shah had also sent out close up photographs of the wicket before the match.
In one WhatsApp message, Shah mentioned that Gujarat Lions would lose even after scoring 200 runs. The BCCI had then 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. The Uttar Pradesh police crime branch could successfully foil the alleged betting attempts,” it had then said.
BCCI ACU chief Neeraj Kumar had then claimed that taking any punitive action against those arrested was not under the jurisdiction of his body.
“My job is over in that case as my job is to collect information and develop it. We have no police powers like arrest, detention or anything. We did investigate the issue and hand over the people involved to the police, now it’s police call to initiate action against them in the court of law,” Kumar told Hindustan Times on Thursday.