The cracks within the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which so far were only glimpsed in passing, became dramatically public following the resignations of secretary SanjayJagdale and treasurer Ajay Shirke on Friday night.
The resignations came even as the BCCI moved to limit the damage caused by the revelation that Chennai Super Kings’ Gurunath Meiyappan had been warned by the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) and that he had shared this information with actor and bookie Vindoo Dara Singh.
The resignations of Jagdale and Shirke confirmed the rising opposition within the BCCI to president N. Srinivasan, who is at the centre of the spot-fixing scandal because of his relationship with son-in-law Meiyappan and CSK.Jagdale said he would not serve on the three-man commission formed to conduct an enquiry into Meiyappan, India Cements, and the owners of Rajasthan Royals.
He said he was “deeply hurt by the recent developments” and hoped new faces would emerge and take the game forward.
The BCCI has called for a Special Working Committee Meeting early next week.
Sources indicated the meeting, to be convened at the behest of Mr. Srinivasan, could be held on June 8.
Mr. Srinivasan, for his part, was quick to deny reports that the ICC had informed the BCCI of its warning to Meiyappan. “The ICC did not share any information with the BCCI on this matter,” he said.
BCCI chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty clarified that “the BCCI office at Cricket Centre, Mumbai, doesn’t have communication from ICC about the IPL VI.”
Tamil Nadu Cricket Association secretary K. S. Viswanathan, who attended the Board’s emergency working committee meeting in Chennai on May 19, said the ICC’s anti-corruption representative “clearly said no information had been given to the BCCI” during the meeting. “The working committee members were present, so was the head of BCCI’s ACSU Ravi Sawani,” said Viswanathan.
Former Board president A.C. Muthiah, however, noted, “The ICC’s anti-corruption unit would have passed on the information to the ACSU, which in turn would have alerted the president. The Board president would have been in the know.”
Shoumojit Banerjee reports from Mumbai:
During police interrogation, Mr. Meiyappan revealed that an ICC ACSU official had given an oral warning to Mr. Meiyappan. “By his [Mr. Meiyappan’s] own admission, the warning ostensibly pertained to the company he kept,” said a top Mumbai Police officer, who did not want to be named.
However, asked how the ICC could have warned Mr. Meiyappan without the BCCI being aware of it, the official said: “To the best of our knowledge, the BCCI’s name has not figured in the conversation.” Mr. Meiyappan, it would appear, never sought an explanation as to the cause of this warning, stating that he “did not have the courage” to do so.
Crime Branch sources also said the CSK Team Principal had informed the arrested actor and bookie, Vindoo Dara Singh, about this warning. “Be careful, I have been warned,” is what Mr. Meiyappan is allegedly said to have told Mr. Singh.
Sources within the Crime Branch have confirmed to The Hindu that this exchange between Mr. Meiyappan and Mr. Singh did take place, but declined to name the ICC official who cautioned the CSK man. “Apart from checking with the ICC, we do not know whether the ICC official named by him [Mr. Meiyappan] exists,” said a top Mumbai Police official.
On Friday, a Mumbai court extended the police remand of Mr. Meiyappan, Mr. Singh and two others in connection with the case till June 3 after the prosecution sought to establish their connection with absconding bookies Sanjay Jaipur, Pawan Jaipur and Chandresh, also known as, ‘Jupiter.’
In its remand application, the Crime Branch asserted that Mr. Meiyappan, Mr. Singh, Alpesh Patel, a hawala operator, and Prem Taneja, a conduit for bookies, needed to be interrogated further in order to know more about the absconding bookies.
The police also said a Crime Branch team had been dispatched to Goa to secure Paresh Batia, another bookie, who was in contact with some of the accused arrested in the case.
In yet another dramatic development, the absconding Chennai-based hotelier, Vikram Aggrawal, known in the betting circles as ‘Victor,’ surfaced and appeared before the Crime Branch here to record his statement.
Mr. Aggrawal, a close friend of Mr. Meiyappan for the last two decades, is alleged to have led the betting syndicate in Chennai and is said to be a crucial link between Mr. Meiyappan and Mr. Singh.
“He was issued a summons by the Mumbai Police to appear today and his statement is being recorded,” Joint Commissioner (Crime) Himanshu Roy said, remarking that the police were yet to take a call on arresting Mr. Aggrawal. “We have yet to establish whether ‘Victor’ is a bookie or a punter,” said Mr. Roy.
At the same time, top bookie Ashwin Agarwal alias ‘Tinku Mandi,’ earlier held by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police in connection with the spot-fixing case, was also brought to the Crime Branch office for recording his statement.
His interrogation is likely to shed light on the Pakistan connection of the betting racket, sources said.
Police sources told The Hindu that Tinku Mandi was likely to be formally arrested on Saturday and produced before a court for seeking his remand.
Royals player to depose
Meanwhile, in yet another development in New Delhi, Rajasthan Royals’ (RR) player Siddharth Trivedi will be a prosecution witness in the spot-fixing case, in which three of his team colleagues — S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan — have been arrested.
The 30-year-old Trivedi, a medium pacer who represents Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy, had played 17 matches for RR in the recently concluded IPL 6. He had allegedly refused to accept an invitation by Ajit Chandila to attend a party arranged by bookies, while also refusing money and gifts offered by them.