The CBI Report in Full -- Part 29
Dr Ali Irani
The CBI enquiry has disclosed that Dr Ali Irani, physio of the Indian team (between 1987 to 1997), acted as a conduit between Mohd. Azharuddin and the betting syndicate. Evidence has disclosed that Dr Ali Irani was collecting money on behalf of Azhar from MK and his associates and that he used to get a "commission" from Azhar for his service.
The evidence against Dr Irani is discussed below. MK has stated that Azharuddin had introduced him to Dr Irani during the Ahmedabad Test against South Africa in 1996. Dr Ali Irani in his statement has admitted that he was introduced to MK by Azharuddin but knew him only as "John".
MK has further stated that Azharuddin had directed him to make payments towards the matches he "did" for MK through Dr Ali Irani. MK has also stated that on some occasions, money to Azharuddin was paid through Dr Irani.
Dr Irani has also admitted that he accepted money from MK and his "representatives" on behalf of Azharuddin on a number of occasions and some of the transactions were to the tune of Rs 10 to 15 lacs. This is also corroborated by the statement of Anil Steel that on two occasions, he had made payments to Ali Irani on behalf of MK.
Dr Irani has also confessed that he used to get around Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 on each occasion for rendering this service to Azharuddin. However, Azharuddin was silent about Dr Ali Irani during his examination.
He figured in the enquiry since his cell phone analysis has disclosed four calls to known bookies/punters.
However, the enquiry has not brought forth evidence to indicate his involvement in match fixing/betting. Nikhil Chopra's cell phone analysis (15.9.99 to 15.4.2000) has disclosed two calls to Rajesh Kalra, one to Sanjeev Chawla and one to Rattan Mehta, all well known punters of Delhi.
Nikhil Chopra has denied making calls to Sanjeev Chawla and Rattan Mehta and has also stated that he does not know them. He has conceded that he knows Rajesh Kalra, whom he had met in the gym at Hotel Park Royal, but denied giving him any information about cricket matches.
Rajesh Kalra has stated that he had once called up Nikhil Chopra during the one dayer in Nagpure in March 2000 between India and South Africa to find out whether Nikhil Chopra was playing or not. Ajay Sharma has said that Chopra once asked him whether he knew any bookies since his 'sala' (brother in law) was interested in betting.
The evidence against Nikhil Chopra only discloses that he may have spoken to some bookies/punters. There is no evidence to far which discloses that he was into betting/match-fixing.
NAVJOT SINGH SIDHU
His name has figured through information from a number of sources as a possible suspect in match-fixing and related malpractices. However, the evidence against him which is discussed in detail hereunder is in the nature of "hearsay". There is no direct evidence against Sidhu to conclusively establish his role in match fixing.
MK has said that whenever Manoj Prabhakar "fixed" a match for him, Prabhakar used to say that Sidhu was also with him. Ajay Sharma has also said that Sidhu was in league with Prabhakar and had in fact once showed him a bag containing a large amount of money that Sidhu allegedly stated was "Black Money" which he would show as his farm income.
Navjot Singh Sidhu has denied that he has ever been approached by any bookie or he has underperformed intentionally in any match. Manoj Prabhakar has not disclosed anything about Sidhu's involvement with him.
The enquiry has disclosed that Delhi players intentionally lost the Ranji Trophy Quarter Final match against Bombay in 1991.
This was basically done to facilitate the participation of some Delhi players in league cricket in England, which would have clashed with further Ranji Trophy engagements. However, the conduct of Delhi players (other than Manoj Prabhakar) is more in the realm of unethical sporting behaviour and does not disclose any nexus with the betting syndicate.
The evidence against Delhi players is discussed next. Mukesh Kumar Gupta has stated that Manoj Prabhakar had "sold" him the information that the Delhi team had decided to lose the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match, 1991, against Bombay.
Manoj Prabhakar has corroborated MK's statement and said that some of the Delhi players were contracted to play league cricket in England, which was clashing with further Ranji Trophy matches and Delhi players had decided to lose the match against Bombay. Ajay Sharma has further corroborated MK's and Prabhakar's statement.
Another member of that team, Maninder Singh, has also stated that the Delhi team was "not serious" about winning that match. This has been further corroborated by Atul Wassan, who has however stated that there was no conscious decision to lose the match. Kirti Azad has stated that he was not aware of any such decision by the Delhi players.
The CBI has not examined other members of that Delhi side. However, there is no evidence to indicate that any player other than Prabhakar received money from MK or anyone else for trading information regarding their decision to lose the match.
CBI has conducted an in-depth enquiry into Kapil Dev's possible role in match fixing and related malpractices.
The enquiry has focussed on Manoj Prabhakar's allegations against Kapil Dev and also delved into Kapil Dev and his associates' linkages, if any, with the betting syndicate. The inquiry has so far not disclosed any evidence of Kapil Dev's role in match fixing and related malpractices.
Manoj Prabhakar has stated that during the Singer Cup, 1994, at Colombo, Sri Lanka, Kapil had offered him Rs 25 lakhs to underperform in the match against Pakistan. According to Prabhakar, Kapol Dev had come to his room when he was in the bathroom and Prabhakar's room-mate Sidhu called him out and told him that "Paaji" had come with some offer.
Thereafter, Kapil had offered him Rs 25 lacs to underperform in the next match against Pakistan. Prabhakar has further stated that he started shouting at Kapil and accused him of "selling" the country. He has stated that Navjot Singh Sidhu was also present when this incident took place.
Prabhakar added that, on hearing the commotion, Prashant Vaidya, who was in the adjoining room also came to his room to find out the reasons for the commotion. Prabhakar has further stated that after this incident, he reported the matter to Ajit Wadekar, the Coach and Mohd Azharuddin, the Captain, during that series.
He also informed Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar about the incident. The only "eyewitness" to this alleged incident, as claimed by Manoj, is Navjot Singh Sidhu. He has completely denied that any such incident took place in his presence. He has stated that Prabhakar had once casually told him during that series that Kapil Dev had made him an "offer".
The possible "chance" witness - Prashant Vaidya - has also stated that he has no knowledge of any such incident and had heard about it for the first time when somebody from the Outlook magazine approached him sometime in 1997 for his version of the alleged incident.
Vaidya's room-mate during that tour, Nayan Mongia, has also denied any knowledge of this incident. Ajit Wadekar and Mohd Azharuddin have also denied that Prabhakar had told them about the incident. Only Ravi Shastri has stated that Prabhakar had told him about the alleged offer about 3 to 4 days after the alleged incident, but he did not believe him.
Prabhakar was also asked by CBI vide letter dated 30.8.2000 whether he would volunteer to undergo Lie Detection Test to substantiate his allegations. He agreed for a conditional Lie Detection Test. However, he did not respond to our request to appear for Lie Detection Test between 25.9.2000 to 28.9.2000.
Kapil Dev has completely denied that he had made any "offer" to Prabhakar during the Singer Cup, 1994. He has also stated that he never had the best of relationship with Prabhakar and has cited two incidents which could have motivated Prabhakar to make allegations against him.
One of these incidents relates to the 1987 series in England, when Kapil Dev included Madan Lal in the playing eleven at the expense of Prabhakar, although Madan Lal was not in the original team and was only playing league cricket in England.
The other incident relates to the advice given by Kapil Dev to the Escort management not to include Prabhakar in the Board of Directors of Escorts Ltd.
CBI has also gone through the "Tehelka Tapes" and evaluated the observations made about Kapil Dev by Jaywant lele, Ajit Wadekar, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Prashant Vaidya, Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar, etc, but no credible and actionable evidence can be deduced from their observations.
There is thus no credible evidence to substantiate the allegations of Manoj Prabhakar that Kapil Dev had offered him Rs 25 lacs to underperform during the Singer Cup Series, 1994, in Sri Lanka. Kapil Dev was also probed with regard to his linkages, if any, with the betting syndicate.
His telephone/cell phone analysis has not disclosed any contact with bookies/punters. Two of his close associates, Karun Dube and Hiren Hathi, were also enquired into to find whether Kapil Dev could have operated through them. The enquiry has not disclosed either Karun Dube or Hiren Hathi having linkages with the betting syndicate.
Their telephone/cell phone analysis has also not indicated any contacts with bookies/punters. Uttamchand, a bookie from Chennai, has stated that Kapil Dev had on one occasion played cards in a large group at Hotel Adyar Park Sheraton, Chennai. Although Uttamchand was a part of that card playing group, he did not personally know Kapil Dev and the "card group" was also organised by one Hira Lal and not by him.
Kapil Dev has admitted that he is fond of playing cards and has been to card sessions at Hotel Adyar Park in the company of Bharat Reddy, ex-wicket keeper of India. However, there is no evidence of any contact between Uttamchand and Kapil Dev thereafter. Kapil Dev is very close to Ajay Jadeja and has stated that Jadeja is like a son to him.
However, there is no evidence to indicate that Kapil Dev has used Jadeja as a conduit to the betting syndicate. With regard to the 1999 Ahmedabad Test against New Zealand, Sachin Tendulkar has stated that the decision not to enforce follow-on was collective, influenced by the fact that bowlers, especially Srinath, had expressed that they were too tired.
Kapil Dev has corroborated this version. Moreover, both of them have stated that the decision was arrived at during the lunch on the fourth day. There is no evidence that Kapil Dev had passed on any information to the betting syndicate about this match.
In the case of Kapil Dev, no evidence has surfaced so far of his linkages with the betting syndicate, both during his playing career and after retirement. In fact, the CBI has examined a number of bookies/ punters of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Lucknow, and other places, but the name of Kapil Dev does not figure as a possible suspect in any of their statements.
In conclusion, it can be said that there is no credible evidence to prove Prabhakar's allegations against Kapil Dev and further, of Kapil Dev's linkages with the betting syndicate during his playing career or after retirement.
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