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Terror suspicions led cops to spot-fixing racket

By Vicky Nanjappa
May 17, 2013 15:18 IST
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The Intelligence Bureau's suspicions about a terror strike led to the spot-fixing arrests. Vicky Nanjappa reports.

Is Sunil Abhichandani, the Dubai-based Indian national, the alleged mastermind behind the spot-fixing at IPL 6?

Intelligence Bureau agents, who have been on Abhichandani's trail since 2012, believe he is their man.

The Bureau initially suspected that some Dubai-based individuals were making calls to move hawala money for terror activities. Constant monitoring of these phone calls led investigators to the huge betting racket at IPL 6.

Sources say large sums of money were mentioned during the telephone conversations. Abhichandani, Intelligence Bureau sources told this correspondent, is heard talking about influencing players and team support personnel, as also also the manner in which the games would be thrown.

The Intelligence Bureau alerted the Mumbai police and Board of Control for Cricket in India officials that a betting cartel was active during IPL 6, and the need to keep a watch on the players. It appears that the IB alert was ignored.

The Intelligence Bureau issued a look-out notice against Abhichandani and also tipped off the Dubai police about him.

Abhichandani, who was allegedly assigned the job of organising the betting cartels for the Indian Premier League's sixth season, is said to be part of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim's betting operations.

He recently moved a petition for anticipatory bail in the Mumbai sessions court, but the plea was rejected.

Delhi police detectives, who monitored phone calls, also suspected the calls were linked to a major terror strike.

Calls were made to individuals in Delhi and Kolkata from Karachi and Lahore, sources point out.

By April, the conspiracy had become clear to the detectives. Most of the conversations revolved around the 'IPL, hawala and Bombay.'

Once the players were roped in, the vocabulary expanded to include bhai for the players, and 'betting'.

Ajith Chandila, the tall Rajasthan Royals off-spinner, was the first cricketer to be arrested.

Shantakumaran Sreesanth, the controversial Rajasthan Royals, Kerala and India medium-pace bowler, was the next to be arrested.

Sreesanth, who used a cell phone belonging to a friend, thinking he would not be tracked, has insisted that he is innocent.

While Sreesanth and Chandila have denied any involvement in the spot-fixing, Delhi police sources claim Ankeet Chavan, the young Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai left-arm spinner, has confessed.

However, as the confession was made in police custody, it won't hold good in court.

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Vicky Nanjappa