IPL spot-fixing scandal today stained Bollywood when police arrested Vindoo Dara Singh,son of late wrestler-actor Dara Singh,for his alleged association with bookies,busting the first filmdom link to the scandal.
The Crime Branch of Mumbai police also arrested a hawala operator and a conduit of a betting syndicate as it widened its probe into the racket,taking the number of those arrested by it in connection with the spot-fixing case to nine since the May 14 arrest of Ramesh Vyas,the alleged kingpin.
Virendra Dara Singh Randhawa alias Vindoo was picked up from his suburban Juhu residence and arrested this morning for his alleged links with the bookies,who were already arrested by the crime branch. Vindoo was also into betting,Joint Commissioner (Crime) Himanshu Roy told reporters.
“Vindoo was questioned after he was found to be in contact with the bookies and subsequently arrested today. His custodial interrogation will continue,” Roy said after a metropolitan court remanded him and two others in police custody till May 24.
A Mumbai-based hawala operator Alpeshkumar Patel,who ensured inflow and outflow of money from Pakistan to India via Dubai for the purpose of betting,was apprehended from his office in south Mumbai’s Kalbadevi area.
Rs 1.28 crore cash and two mobile phones were recovered from him,Roy said. Patel was actively involved in the hawala transactions for which he used to charge anything between 0.25 and 0.5 per cent for each transaction.
Prem Taneja,a conduit for bookies,was arrested from immigration area at the Mumbai international airport while he was trying to flee to Dubai. Taneja was in close contact with Vindoo.
Crime Branch sources claimed that 49-year-old Vindoo,winner of reality television show Bigg Boss season 3,was in touch with some bookies arrested in the scandal and was himself into betting. He was on many occasions spotted watching IPL matches and attending post-match parties.
His arrest is the first from Bollywood in connection with the latest scandal to hit Indian cricket.
Dressed in a grey T-shirt,Vindoo,booked under sections 420,465,466,467 and 468 of IPC related to cheating and forgery,was produced before metropolitan magistrate M N Saleem,who remanded him in police custody till May 24.
“We also want to find out if he was using his contacts with players to spot-fix IPL matches,” the Crime Branch said in its remand application.
The application said police had phone call data records which showed the actor was in contact with absconding bookie Jupiter,wanted by both Mumbai and Delhi police in connection with separate spot-fixing cases registered by them,besides Pawan Jaipur and others.
The Crime Branch insisted that Vindoo’s custodial interrogation was needed to establish the chain of people involved in the racket as the actor was not only betting himself but was also aiding the bookies.
Crime Branch chief Roy said Vindoo was also in touch with arrested bookie Ramesh Vyas,one of the betting module busted by his department.
“We have certain evidence against Vindoo which he also admitted to. A laptop,mobile phone and a diary were recovered from him. No doubt that he was actively in contact with the bookies,” Roy said.
However,he parried a question about whether he also acted as a link between players and bookies.
With money laundering surfacing during the investigation,Roy said the Enforcement Directorate would be requested to join the probe.
Vindoo’s wife Dina said she knew nothing about his dealings.
“I don’t know what happened. I’m not in touch with him. I don’t know where he is. I just picked up my daughter from school,” she said.
The Crime Branch,which is also probing the scandal apart from Special Cell of Delhi Police,had yesterday questioned a casting director who sent photographs of models to S Sreesanth,one of the three cricketers arrested in the scam,and summoned a Telugu film producer having business links with the tainted India pacer.
The move came amid suspicion that honey traps could have been laid to lure cricketers into spot-fixing IPL matches.