The IPL spot-fixing scandal netted its biggest catch Friday as the Mumbai Police arrested Gurunath Meiyappan,son-in-law of the Indian cricket board president N Srinivasan and head of the most successful team in the six-year-old league,for his suspected role in the betting-fixing racket. Express Editorial: Disqualify CSK,sack Srinivasan
Meiyappan,the chief of the Chennai Super Kings team owned by Srinivasans India Cements,was questioned for nearly three hours by Mumbai Police Crime Branch officers before being arrested late on Friday night. Shekhar Gupta’s National Interest column: The giant fix
We have interrogated Meiyappan and based on information that we have and this interrogation,we find that he was involved in the offence. He will now be placed under arrest and we will produce him within 24 hours before the magistrate as per law, said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime),Himanshu Roy.
Roy declined to share details of Meiyappans questioning. He is the tenth person to be arrested by the Mumbai Police in the case.
Meiyappans name allegedly emerged from the phone call records of Vindoo Randhawa,the actor-son of the late wrestler-turned-actor Dara Singh,who is believed to have worked as a bookie under the nickname Jack.
Police sources said his name also surfaced during the interrogation of Vindoo,hawala operator Alpesh Patel and bookie Prem Taneja. Vindoo has alleged that Meiyappan was placing bets through him,police said.
The Crime Branch had Thursday summoned Meiyappan to Mumbai for questioning and had given him time until 5 pm on Friday to present himself. Meiyappans request for time until Monday was rejected Friday,forcing him to rush to Mumbai.
The face of CSK during the IPL auctions,Meiyappan spent the first half of Friday evading the media by changing SUVs in Kodaikanal. He reached the Madurai airport at 5.25 pm,and once inside,shifted to another SUV to evade the media.
His chartered flight landed in Mumbai at 8.15 pm and he was taken away in a police vehicle to the Crime Branchs unit-I in Crawford Market. During the questioning late on Friday night,Vindoo was taken to the unit-I office and was jointly interrogated with Meiyappan.
Sources said that Vindoo was later questioned separately in connection with some new facts that apparently emerged in Meiyappans interrogation. A team of 10 officers were involved in the interrogation process,including Roy and Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) Niket Kaushik.
In a fresh remand earlier in the day,the Crime Branch told Metropolitan Magistrate Nasir Saleem that both Vindoo and Meiyappan have to be questioned together. Officials said bookie Ramesh Vyas and the other arrested bookies interrogated in connection with Meiyappans alleged involvement did not yield much.
A sustained questioning needs to be carried out to establish the extent to which the duo were involved in betting and spot-fixing, investigating officer Nandkumar Gopale told the court.
Meiyappans lawyer Raman claimed his client did not know Ramesh Vyas,Prem Taneja or any other bookie.
He knows Vindoo as some kind of celebrity and came in contact with him in some social event. He never had the slightest idea of Vindoo being involved in betting, Raman said.
As Meiyappan was headed to Mumbai,India Cements issued a statement saying he was neither the CEO nor team principal as earlier announced.
Mr. Gurunath is only one of the members (honorary) of the management team of Chennai Super Kings. India Cements follows zero tolerance policy and if anyone is proved guilty,strict action will be taken immediately, the statement said.
The move was seen as an attempt to save CSK as the IPL contract allows BCCI-IPL to terminate a franchise agreement if the franchisee,any franchisee group company and/or any owner acts in any way which has a material adverse effect upon the reputation or standing of the league,BCCI-IPL,BCCI,the franchisee,the team (or any other team in the league) and/or the game of cricket.
The change in Meiyappans status was also reflected on his Twitter account Friday evening. But his lawyer Raman claimed Meiyappans name was not dropped Friday.
Gurunath used to sit at auctions as part of the management,but that doesnt make him the owner. The last two years he hasnt worn the owners badge… media are showing his accreditation pass from 2009 and 2010, he said.
He added that the owners badges were only with two senior India Cements officials and Meiyappan had a management badge. Srinivasan too has never worn an owners badge, Raman said.
Earlier on Friday,the police identified Vindoo in his remand application as a a common link between the bookies in India,Saudi Arabia and Pakistan,and had allegedly taken bets from wanted accused Jupiter,Pawan Jaipur and Sanjay Jaipur.
The Crime Branch claims that several locally purchased SIM cards were procured much before the 2013 IPL season began in April and all calls were routed to one SIM card.
Vindoo allegedly used this SIM card to contact bookies on both sides of the border. This network of calls was found through his call data records. Calling him a messenger,the prosecution claimed that Vindoo would take bets from two absconding accused and forward it to Jupiter,Pawan Jupiter and Sanjay Jupiter.
According to the police,Vindoo helped both Pawan and Sanjay to flee to Dubai. The police have reclaimed the phones of Pawan and Sanjay from Vindoo and are now building the case through the recorded intercepts between Vindoo and the bookies.