The CBI Report in Full -- Part 16
Statement of Ajay Sharma Ajay Sharma
The former Indian player stated that he first played cricket for Delhi in 1984 when Mohinder Amrarnath was the captain. He played for India for the first time in 1987 and has in all played one Test match and 33 one-day internationals.
Ajay Sharma played league cricket in Delhi, and in one of the league matches he played for the Sonnet Club in the Ram Charan Aggarwal tournament in the late 1980s, in a ground near Town Hall, Delhi, he scored a century. The spectators watching the match were happy and surrounded him on his way back to the pavilion.
Some people also put some money in his pockets as a gesture. From the ground, he was escorted by his friend Sanjay Bharadwaj and some policemen. One of the persons from the crowd had dropped some money in his front shirt pocket about whom his friend Sanjay Bharadwaj later asked if he recognised that person.
On his expressing ignorance about the person, Sanjay Bharadwaj had told him that the man who had put money in his pocket was "M K Gupta", who was involved in betting in cricket matches. He denied that he provided information regarding weather, pitch etc to M K Gupta during the Indian team's tour to New Zealand in 1990.
But he remembered that M K had rung up his hotel room during the New Zealand tour in 1990 and had talked to Manoj Prabhakar. After the New Zealand tour, Ajay Sharma was dropped from the Indian team scheduled to tour England and it was during this period that he personally introduced Manoj Prabhakar to M K Gupta on the insistence of M K Gupta.
Thereafter, he lost touch with M K Gupta who became close to Manoj Prabhakar. About the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match between Mumbai and Delhi held at Delhi in 1991, Ajay Sharma stated that, in that particular year, Bishen Singh Bedi had taken some court order due to which Ranji Trophy matches were delayed and that some of the Delhi players including himself and Manoj Prabhakar, Maninder Singh, Atul Wassan, Bhaskar Pillai etc were scheduled to play league cricket in England that year.
However, since Ranji Trophy matches were delayed, if Delhi had won that round, the next round would have clashed with league commitments in England. In view of this, the players collectively decided to lose the match against Bombay. Bombay won this match on first innings lead of one run.
Ajay Sharma further stated that during 1993-'94, he wanted to purchase a Zen Car on which there was a 'black' of Rs 15,000 and as he did not have the money to pay the 'black', he contacted M K Gupta, who paid him the required Rs 15,000. Thus his contacts with M K Gupta got renewed.
Sometime around that period, he met Azharuddin in Madras at Hotel Chola Sheraton. Ajay Sharma was in Madras playing the Buchi Babu Tournament. During his meeting with Azharuddin, Azhar asked him if he could get someone to sponsor a fashion-show and charity cricket matches which would cost around Rupees 1 crore.
He told Azhar that he would talk to someone whom he knew in Delhi and he approached M K Gupta. M K Gupta agreed to provide Rs 1 crore and he arranged a meeting for Azhar with M K Gupta in Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi in 1995. For arranging this meeting and introducing Azhar to M K Gupta, he was paid Rs 5 lakhs by M K Gupta.
Later, after about a month and half, Azhar rang him up and informed that the person he had introduced had paid him the money. Azhar also told him that M K Gupta was talking to him about 'making" cricket matches to which he told Azhar that he could consider it.
Later, when M K Gupta and Azhar met him in Delhi, M K Gupta told Azhar that there was no need to pay back the money as it could be adjusted against the cricket matches that would be 'made.
Ajay Sharma further stated that once he had introduced Azhar to M K Gupta, they kept him out from their dealings and he, therefore, could not say specifically which matches they had fixed. However, during the Triangular Titan Cup Series in 1996 in India in which South Africa and Australia were also taking part, some complications arose between Azhar and M K Gupta.
The latter two had decided to fix matches during the series but the result of one match did not turn out to be as arranged and M K Gupta lost a lot of money. M K Gupta held him also responsible for his loss as it was he who had introduced Azhar to M K Gupta and M K asked him to accompany him to Hyderabad just after the series to talk to Azhar regarding the loss suffered by him.
He further stated that he travelled with M K Gupta to Hyderabad and stayed in a hotel very close to Azhar's house in Banjara Hills. They met Azhar in Hyderabad, and during the meeting, Azhar promised M K Gupta that he would make up his loss in the ensuing Test Series against South Africa.
Ajay Sharma also revealed that the other players through whom Azhar operated were Ajay Jadeja and Nayan Mongia. As far as his knowledge goes, Ajay Jadeja, N S Sidhu and Manoj Prabhakar also operated together.
In fact, N S Sidhu once showed him a black bag containing a large sum of money and said that this was black money which would be converted into white by showing it as farm income. Ajay Sharma further stated that during the Australia tour of India in 1996, M K Gupta had approached him and asked him if he could have a pitch prepared at the Feroze Shah Kotla Ground in Delhi which would lead to a certain result and for which M K promised to reward him and the groundsman suitably.
In this connection, he spoke to groundsman Choudhary at Feroz Shah Kotla and also arranged his meeting with M K Gupta near Rajghat.
Choudhary accordingly prepared the desired wicket and a result was obtained in the Test match in three and a half days. After that match, Ajay Sharma told M K Gupta that he paid at least Rs 4-5 lakhs for getting the wicket prepared as per his instructions, but M K Gupta paid him only Rs 3 lacs of which he gave Rs 50,000 to the groundsman Choudhary and kept the remaining Rs 2.5 lakhs with himself.
Sometime in mid 90s Ajay Sharma took Ajay Jadeja, along with a tall girl, to M K Gupta's house at Defence Colony at round 10.00 pm one night. The meeting was arranged at the instance of M K Gupta. Jadeja agreed to the meeting in spite of knowing that M K Gupta was a cricket bookie.
At this meeting, Jadeja offered his services to M K Gupta to fix matches but M K wanted to know how many other players he could rope in. Not being satisfied with Jadeja's answer, the deal could not come through. However, M K Gupta paid Rs 50,000 to Jadeja during this meeting.
Out of this amount, Jadeja gave Ajay Sharma Rs 18,000 and kept Rs 32,000 for himself saying that he wanted to buy a cellular phone which at that time cost around Rs 32,000. Ajay Sharma admitted that he knew Ajay Gupta, Ameesh Gupta and Gyan Chand Gupta and that he had introduced Ajay Gupta to Azhar.
He was a regular visitor to Roshanara Club in Delhi where one Sanjay Anand who was involved in the management of the club was well known to him. Sanjay Anand once approached him and told him that he had heard that cricket matches were being fixed and a lot of money was being made, that he had a party with him who could invest money and requested him to introduce Azharuddin to his party.
Sanjay Anand probably approached him to introduce Azhar as it was common knowledge that he was very close to Azhar. Sanjay Anand first introduced Ajay Sharma to Ajay Gupta. However, nothing came out of this meeting as Azhar was not the captain of the team at that time and Ajay Gupta said that nothing was possible unless Azhar became the captain.
In 1998, when Azhar was the captain, Ajay Gupta asked Sanjay Anand to talk to him to introduce Ajay Gupta to Azharuddin. Accordingly, he talked to Azhar who agreed to meet Ajay Gupta and he arranged the meeting at Taj Palace Hotel, Delhi, where an understanding to fix matches was reached.
For arranging this meeting Ajay Gupta gave Rs 5 lakhs each to him and to Sanjay Anand. Sanjay Anand picked up this money from the office of Ajay Gupta. Ajay Gupta later introduced Ameesh Gupta, S/o Gyan Chand Gupta to Azhar.
Azhar was also given a mobile phone no. 98111 50860 by the Guptas for his use. He also stated that he knew through Sanjay Anand that all the three Guptas named earlier placed heavy bets with bookies during cricket matches.
On being asked about the recent telephone calls made to Azhar just before or on the day of the matches, he stated that during these calls he used to wish Azhar "All the Best" and also asked him if he had spoken to the Guptas.
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