The co-owner of Rajasthan Royals, Raj Kundra, denied being in touch with a known bookie till the lead investigator in the IPL probe B B Misra reminded him about a “gift” he had accepted. Kundra opened up on realising that the bookie had already spilled the beans during interrogation, Misra told The Indian Express.
“When Kundra was interrogated, he had initially denied everything. Then we confronted him with the version we got from the bookie. It was then that he admitted he was in touch (with the bookie). He (Kundra) had taken a gift from the bookie,” Misra said.
“He (Kundra) said he did not know the bookie. But his mobile had the number of that bookie. He explained that it was an undesirable contact and he had to store it so if a call comes he will know that it is a bookie and he would not pick it up. Fair enough…but then he would not have accepted a gift. When you say he is an undesirable contact and ‘I don’t want to talk to him’, why did you accept a gift from him? Why did you allow him to come near you? This was a contradiction. So I reminded Raj Kundra of the gift he took,” Misra said.
When contacted by The Indian Express, Kundra said the “gift” was a 10-gram gold chain for his new-born and panjiri (a wheat-based sweet), which he declined to accept. Yet, he said, the bookie left it with the watchman at his residence.
“I had no idea this person was a bookie as it’s not written on anyone’s face. I met him first at a friend’s party. He piled on and was over-friendly and asked for IPL tickets for his son, which my bodyguard gave him. Once he turned up at my house with panjiri and a gold chain for my new-born. I told him I was on my way out and didn’t even entertain him. I declined but he left the panjiri and chain with my watchman. I never had any dealings with this person, other than on these two occasions,” Kundra told The Indian Express in a series of messages on WhatsApp.
Misra joined the IPL probe in 2014 on the Supreme Court’s orders after the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee, in its first report on allegations of spot-fixing and betting in the 2013 IPL, mentioned several cases of suspected sporting fraud.
The former IPS officer, was given a three-page note, which contained allegations against 13 people, including four officials and nine players, based on an initial report of the Justice Mudgal Committee.
During his four-month probe till October 31, 2014, Misra questioned over 100 people, including 30 players and top officials. His findings were part of Justice Mudgal’s final report that was submitted to the Supreme Court.
Kundra and Gurunath Meiyappan, the Chennai Super Kings team official, were later handed life bans for betting. Misra is now with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Over the last two days, The Indian Express had quoted Misra as saying that a top Indian cricketer, who was part of the 2011 World Cup winning team, was under suspicion for his alleged contact with a known bookie before an international match in the 2008-09 season. Misra also said that he had stumbled upon a “nexus” between agents who run player-management companies and senior cricketers who have stakes in such enterprises.
In Kundra’s case, Misra said, the contradiction in statements — to the Justice Mudgal committee and to Misra — meant he was attempting to mislead the probe.
“Whatever he told the Justice Mudgal committee initially turned out to be false. I am repeatedly saying that he may not have used the bookie for cricket or any betting or maybe he was not passing on information. But the fact remains that he was in contact with a bookie. He was misleading the (Mudgal) committee. To be in touch with a bookie, by itself was incorrect,” Misra said.
If Kundra had stuck to his original version, Misra said, he would have brought him face-to-face with the bookie. “In fact, I told him that if he is still denying, I will bring that gentleman and confront him,” Misra said.
Kundra, according to Misra, had at least two meetings with the bookie. “One for a gift and one when the bookie had come to collect some (match) tickets,” Misra said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Kundra claimed that “selective justice” was meted out to him, and that he has appealed to the Supreme Court to revoke the life ban imposed on him.
“You can see how badly managed and rushed the whole case was. Only four names (of officials) have been made public and the rest of the names (players) have been kept in an envelope… I was (found) guilty of betting with absolutely zero evidence,” Kundra said.
Detailing his findings on a “suspect IPL game” between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, Misra said “there was lot of noise that this match was fixed”. Meiyappan was a team official of CSK at the time.
“Fortunately for me, we had the telephonic conversation during that match of one of the persons against whom the allegation was that he is the one who fixed the match. We knew at what particular time he placed the bet in favour of Team 1. After sometime, when Team 1 was not doing very well, though it was a stronger team, he started placing bets on Team 2. Then again the scenario changed and he started placing bets on Team 1,” Misra said.
“We checked his telephonic conversation with the timing, coordinated with the video of the match. It made a lot of sense because what was happening on the ground was prompting him to bet in a certain manner. If a match is fixed by this gentleman, then he would not have flip-flopped in his approach,” the IPL investigator said.