One of the two men who lost nearly Rs 8 crore in a stunning daylight robbery on a South Delhi street on Tuesday is an accused in the cricket match-fixing scandal of 2000 involving the late South African captain Hansie Cronje, police sources said.
The sources said the man, Rajesh Kalra, was named in the match-fixing chargesheet along with Cronje, alleged kingpin Sanjeev Chawla, Manmohan Khattar, Sunil Dara alias Bittu and Kishan Kumar, brother of the slain T-Series founder Gulshan Kumar.
The men were accused of entering into a criminal conspiracy to fix the One-Day series played between India and South Africa in February-March, 2000. Kalra was said to have been involved in fixing the March 9, 2000 match in Kochi, which India won by 3 wickets.
Six armed men in two stolen vehicles intercepted a third vehicle around 9.30 am in Lajpat Nagar and snatched Rs 7.69 crore from its occupants, police said. The cash allegedly belonged to Kalra and his Gurgaon-based business partner Rahul Ahuja.
Police said Ahuja’s manager Rakesh Kumar Sharma — who lives in south Delhi’s Hemkunt Colony and is the complainant in the case — was on his way to deposit the cash in three different banks in Connaught Place, Moti Nagar and Karol Bagh when the robbers intercepted their Honda City.
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Sharma was accompanied by four others — the driver of the City, Subodh, a help named Baijnath, a peon, and another employee, police said.
“Kalra, an accused in the match-fixing case, is presently on bail. He was arrested in 2000, and after getting bail, he started a business in property-dealing. We did not hear of him all this while, until his name came up on Tuesday in this case,” a police source said.
The robbers, who came in a WagonR and a Hyundai Verna, both of which were stolen a week ago, appeared to know when the Honda City carrying Sharma would go past Moolchand Hospital, where it was intercepted, sources in the police said. The sources said it appeared that the robbers were in touch with one or more of the City’s occupants, who were probably updating them on the vehicle’s location.
“We have recorded the statements of the victims, but we are examining all of them. There has to be someone who was communicating the movement of the car to them. It is also suspected that the Verna and the WagonR were waiting for the City near Moolchand, as their movement is not seen in the CCTV footage from the BRT corridor,” a source said.
The WagonR, which was just ahead of the City, stopped abruptly, resulting in the City smashing into it. The Verna, which was behind the City, hit it from the rear. The occupants of the WagonR and Verna emerged on the busy road and picked up a fight with Sharma and his companions, before producing a firearm and escaping with the cash and all three cars.
Kalra was arrested in the fixing case in April 2000. During interrogation, he reportedly revealed that Cronje had received an amount between $ 400,000 and $ 500,000 to provide match information, and to persuade other players in his team to be part of the fix.
Thirteen years after the scandal broke, Delhi Police filed the chargesheet in the case last year. Cronje, who died in an air crash in 2002, was named the main accused, along with Sanjeev Chawla. It is believed that the phone that Chawla provided to Cronje was purchased by Kalra.
Dara and Kumar are out on bail along with Kalra. Chawla and Khattar are absconding. The six were booked under IPC sections 420 (sheating) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
Police had stumbled upon the cricket scandal while snooping on phone conversations as part of their investigations into the murder of music baron Gulshan Kumar.