BCCI suspends three Rajasthan Royals players for spot fixing

NEW DELHI: The Delhi police today said it was in the process of arresting some more bookies in the case relating to three Rajasthan Royals players involved in spot fixing, even as Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar said the mastermind was operating from overseas.

Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan, and S Sreesanth have been booked under sections 120 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for their involvement in spot fixing in three different Indian Premier League (IPL) matches against Pune Warriors, Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians respectively. The charge relates to conceding runs to players at the instance of bookies in return for sums ranging between Rs 20 to 40 lakh.

Kumar said it was clear that the underworld was involved, but refused to name any individual criminal or mafia king. He also ruled out arrests of any other player in these cases.

Only Rajasthan Royals are involved in spot-fixing, he said. Batsmen are ruled out as no connection has been established in the audio tapes. The police have also arrested seven bookies in Mumbai and three bookies in Delhi in connection with the case. They are looking for two more bookies in Delhi.

He said that the Delhi Police had been on the track of bookies after a tip-off for quite some time, and it was only yesterday that the arrests were made in Mumbai after the police had collected ample evidence which included phone conversation recordings as well as clippings of the relevant matches on 5, 9 and 15 May at Jaipur, Mohali and Mumbai respectively.

He rejected Sreesanth's father's claims of MS Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh being behind the incident. Jiju Janardhan who played the conduit and Sreesanth played for the same club.

Kumar said the bookies looked for vulnerable players before approaching them for any spot fixing.

Interestingly, Chandila failed to give the appropriate signal to the bookies who could not place the bets and therefore demanded that he return the advance of Rs 20 lakh he had received. Sreesanth received Rs 40 lakh while Chavan was promised Rs 60 lakh for giving away at least fourteen runs in an over.

Expressing shock over the incident, the Board for Control of Cricket in India has already suspended these players.

The Rajasthan Royals franchise, which is co-owned by Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, has said in statement that, "We are completely taken by surprise... We will fully cooperate with the authorities to ensure a thorough investigation. The management at Rajasthan Royals has a zero-tolerance approach to anything that is against the spirit of the game."

Thirty year old Sreesanth, a veteran of 53 ODIs and 27 Tests, has been in controversy before over a fight with spinner Harbhajan Singh in the 2008 edition of the Indian Premier League.

Chandila, 29, has played for Haryana and the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL previously. Chavan, 27, has played for Mumbai.

Spot fixing is the manipulation of a particular ball or wicket in a cricket tournament, which is then betted upon.

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