Hosts Saurashtra Cricket Association detected a racket of fake tickets for the second One-Day International between India and Sri Lanka, being played in Rajkot.
An official complaint was lodged at the city's Pradumna Nagar police station on Saturday night. Ironically, the man accused happens to be a current state panel umpire of the SCA.
"We've received a complaint from SCA official Nitin Raychura, who has accused one Harish Ramanuj of ordering 100-odd complimentary tickets as well as lunch and tea coupons for Sunday's one-day cricket match between India and Sri Lanka, at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground, at a private printing press in the city.
"We're told that the printing press owner himself informed SCA secretary Niranjan Shah about someone giving him a CD of the copies of fake tickets and coupons, asking him to get them printed. We've taken possession of the CD in question. By the time the police was informed the accused had managed to escape. But he can't go out of our reach; we'll nab him soon. Meanwhile, we're conducting a detailed inquiry into the whole incident," Police Inspector B D Rabari told rediff.com.
Ramanuj is in his forties and is a pretty well-known figure in the plush SCA office in Rajkot. He successfully conducted the umpire's written and practical tests that the SCA conducts at intervals. He has long been a state panel umpire and officiates in matches conducted by the SCA. Interestingly, as a cricket expert of sorts, he has also given a resume of several Ranji Trophy matches on All India Radio, Rajkot.
If Ramanuj had succeeded in his unhealthy designs, a major fake ticket scam may have occurred for no fault of any SCA officials. The fact is that apart from being a partner in the Jaihind group of publications, Niranjan Shah has his own printing press, Kitab Ghar, in Rajkot. It is here that all the match tickets, coupons and most other documents of the SCA are printed. The ongoing ODI tickets were also printed at Kitab Ghar.
Ramanuj was smart enough to flash his official state panel umpire's card to Pratik Gorasia, the owner of Sagoon Kankotri, the printing press in question. His intention was that Gorasia would believe him to be a genuine SCA representative and not doubt him. But, to his misfortune, Gorasia is not only a well-wisher of the SCA but also aware about Kitab Ghar and the cricket-related stuff being printed there.
So, rather than feel happy when Ramanuj approached him with his already prepared CD to print the fake tickets and coupons, Gorasia was in for a shock. He could not believe his eyes that Shah, of all people, wanted some of the match tickets and coupons to be printed at Sagoon Kankotri despite owning a printing press himself.
Gorasia was quick to gauge the situation and pretended to book Ramanuj's order. As soon as Ramanuj left his printing press he called up SCA governing body member and media manager Suroo Doshi and informed him of what the man was up to.
"This was how we came to know about what could have been huge racket. The CD contained exact copies of the original complimentary copies as well as lunch and tea coupons of the India-Sri Lanka match. Obviously, Ramanuj wanted to sell many duplicate tickets at lower rates and become richer by a few lakhs of rupees. Of course, we never suspected that Ramanuj could do a thing like this to the SCA, which made him somebody from nobody," Doshi said.