Sunday, May 28, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Prabhakar produces videotape as ‘evidence’

NEW DELHI, May 27 (UNI) — The edifice of Indian cricket was today torn further apart by the damning disclosures on match-fixing in a secretly produced 90-minute videotape in which former Test all-rounder Manoj Prabhakar got off-guard players and administrators to make some stunning revelations.

In the videotape produced by website, names of Kapil Dev, Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja and Ajay Sharma figure prominently among those allegedly involved in tanking matches.

The skeletons from the cupboard came tumbling out as players and officials, caught in their unguarded moments, revealed the dirty goings on in the game.

The videotape shocked the gathering in a five-star hotel which included politicians, sports administrators, noted public personalities besides a host of mediapersons. “It is shameful,’’ said Indian Hockey Federation President K P S Gill.

Asked if the videotape proved anything, Gill said: “It is not a question of proving... It is a case of trust being betrayed. A system has been shattered otherwise gambling is a very minor offence.’’

Gill recalled a BCCI official telling him nine-year-ago in Bangalore that “cricket has become WWF.’’

The tape titled “Fallen heroes — the inside story of a nation betrayed” carries “interviews” of the ‘who’s who’ of Indian cricket — ICC President Jagmohan Dalmiya, BCCI President A C Muthiah, Board Secretary J Y Lele, former President I S Bindra, physio Ali Irani, Mumbai Commissioner of Police (Railways) Rakesh Maria, Income Tax Commissioner Vishwa Bandhu Gupta, Sports Authority of India Secretary Amrit Mathur, former Test stars Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, Kirti Azad, Nayan Mongia, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Prashant Vaidya, Ajit Wadekar, Bishen Singh Bedi, Kiran More, Sandeep Patil, Mohinder Amarnath and Sanjay Manjrekar. Besides, the recorded versions of Congress leader and former Union Minister Kamal Nath and film actress Anju Mahendru also figured.

The video recordings brought out specific instances of alleged match-fixing and betting involving Indians as mentioned by all those who were “interviewed”.

It starts with Maria quoting a source as saying: “Things started when Gavaskar was the captain. The system was well-developed when Kapil Dev became the captain and peaked when Azhar became captain.”

Talking about the malpractice, Maria alleged that the investigation brought out the involvement of Prabhakar, Kapil, Jadeja and Azhar.

The police official alleged that Azhar had contacts with Dawood gang members like Chota Shakeel, Sharad Shakeel and Anees. “He (Azhar) has a criminal bent of mind,” he alleged adding that the former captain was “very smart” and changed his mobile numbers quite frequently.

He put the total worth of Azhar at Rs 150 to Rs 160 crore with four-five flats in Juhu alone.

Cricketer-turned-commentator Ravi Shastri also said that Azhar had the protection of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. Ali Irani, who was the physio therapist of the Indian team from 1987 till 1997, alleged that Azhar also shared a close rapport with a Chief Minister and any involvement of his would mean the fall of the Vajpayee Government.

“If pulled into the controversy, he could act like Jayalalitha,” the tape showed Irani as saying.

Unaware that the conversation was being secretly videotaped, some of those spoken to mentioned names of some Indian players in the context of betting and match-fixing without any concrete evidence which could stand the scrutiny of courts.

Prabhakar, who was present at the screening of the “documentary” at a five-star hotel, made a statement that by doing what he did he might have lost all friends in the game, but justified his act saying “but the purpose is to clear my name”.

He said he had helped in the making of the film because accusing fingers were being pointed at him. “My battle is against those trying to bring loss to cricket,” he added.

“Even if they don’t let me come into cricket circles, I am not bothered. To clean the game, I’ve taken this step.”

Prabhakar, who is heard asking questions related to his allegation against Kapil Dev in the documentary, said it was not his intention to hurt anyone.

“I knocked at several doors, but to no avail. So I had to take this step,” Prabhakar said.

“I hope, our people also, like (sacked South African skipper Hansie) Cronje come forward and admit they made mistakes,” he added.

Lele, when contacted for his reaction to the screening, told Star TV “anything can be doctored”.

“He is proving his mettle and what sort of person he is,” Lele said.

Irani described Jadeja as “mischievous thug” alleging that he worked in tandem with Azhar in first fixing the match and then selling the information outside. “Jaddu used to tell Azhar whatever you want me to do just tell me... Jaddu would then sell the same thing at a heavy price elsewhere.”

BCCI Secretary Lele said it was Kapil, Azhar and Jadeja who were allegedly involved in match-fixing. “So, there are three persons. Azhar, Jadeja and Kapil. What is Jadeja, is all Kapil,’’ he said.

He recalled the then coach Anshuman Gaekwad telling him about being tipped on the eve of the 1997 India-New Zealand semifinal match of a tournament in Sri Lanka that Azhar and Jadeja would get run out and India will lose the match.

Gaekwad had a word with Sachin Tendulkar regarding this and the master blaster alone ensured an Indian win in the match in which Azhar and Jadeja were indeed run out, Lele said adding that Gaekwad was again told now the team would lose the finals against Sri Lanka. But Sachin repeated the feat.

Talking of Kapil, Lele expressed surprise that India did not ask New Zealand to follow on in the Ahmedabad Test last year. Kapil’s point of view was that the team was too tired and wanted some rest. Hence he thought it would be better for the team to bat for some and give a target of over 500 runs the Kiwis in which, however, Lele found no logic and said even skipper Sachin Tendulkar favoured giving a follow-on.

“But, I was surprised to see the Indian team batting. Sachin said Kapil wanted us to bat. Kapil told a press conference in the evening that it was the captain’s decision,” Lele recalled.


Sidhu evades media
From Ravi Dhaliwal

PATIALA, May 27 — After over 48 hours of intense drama , speculation and suspense regarding the mystery of the whereabouts of former Test cricketer Navjot Sidhu, the bubble finally burst today when it was confirmed that the cricketer was in town for the last two days and was simply evading the embarrassment of replying to the queries of dozens of reporters, who had converged on the city, after the cricketer had deposed before the CBI in the infamous match-fixing case.

Scores of reporters, from the print and the electronic media, who had come to the city in their quest to get Sidhu’s side of the story regarding his deposition to the CBI , were kept on tenterhooks for more than two days by Sidhu’s family members who all the time kept insisting that the cricketer was away to Mumbai in connection with an Interview to be telecast by a private TV channel.

However, today afternoon at precisely 1.00 PM, this reporter decided to visit Sidhu’s Yadvindera colony residence only after scores of telephone calls yielded different and sometimes vague answers over the last two days. On reaching Sidhu’s residence , on a query as to whether Navjot was back from Mumbai, Sidhu’ servant who gave his name as Deepak, let the cat out of the bag, by admitting that:” Kakaji ab aaram kar rahen hain. Agar milna hai to shyam ko ajana” [Navjot is now resting. If you want to meet him come in the evening]. Deepak, on being probed a bit further admitted that ‘Kakaji’ was in the city since the last two or three days.

This one admission on the part of Sidhu’s servant was enough to put a lid on the mystery surrounding the cricketers whereabouts for the last couple of days. Later, Sidhu’s presence in town was also confirmed by a close confidant of his.

Interestingly just half an hour earlier, when this reporter visited Navjot’s posh Century Enclave mansion to enquire about Sidhu`s presence in town all he got from his maid servant, Piari, and his driver that “Sahib Mumbai se ek do din tak ajayenge “[Navjot will return from Mumbai within the next two or three days]. Piari also confirmed that a lot of calls were being received at both of Sidhu’s houses , but, however, refused to say from where these calls were coming from.

However, it remains an enigma as to why the normally articulate Navjot Sidhu chose to play the cat and mouse game with the mediapersons, some of whom had travelled from Bangalore and other far off places . Even the main protagonists of l`affaire match-fixing like Kapil Dev and others who have deposed before the CBI are openly meeting the media and in fact are addressing press conferences. Maybe, the normally media shy Patiala based cricketer might have had his own reasons of keeping away from the spotlight of the media glare.



Prabhakar ‘no less guilty’

NEW DELHI, May 27 (PTI) — Former cricketer Manoj Prabhakar, who claims to have taken the lead in cleansing the game of betting, is himself involved in match fixing, says Outlook in the magazine’s June 5 issue, Outlook quotes a senior Mumbai police officer who confirmed: “Prabhakar was as guilty as — if not more guilty than — the people he is pointing fingers at.”

Fresh investigations conducted by the magazine reveal that Manoj Prabhakar’s name figured prominently in telephonic conversations monitored by the Mumbai police and intercepts conducted by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence in the early nineties. Outlook quotes a DRI investigator as saying: “His (Prabhakar) name was quoted often when these bookies were talking.”

The DRI sources further go on to say: “The intelligence which we gathered at that time was explosive enough to be taken ahead. If we were given the go ahead, we could have hit paydirt.”

The magazine says that both the intelligence agencies chanced upon Prabhakar’s name when it figured repeatedly while keeping tabs on the Mumbai bookies and the Dubai underworld nexus. One top investigator told Outlook that on the basis of evidence which they have, Prabhakar’s role in match-fixing would now increasingly be put under scrutiny.

According to Outlook, Prabhakar was one of the four names mentioned frequently in DRI telephonic intercepts. The other three are Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja and Nayan Mongia. The intercepts were later handed over to the then Revenue Secretary M.R. Sivaraman, who in turn had passed them on the BCCI chief Madhavrao Scindia.

“All their names were being bandied around. It distinctly gave the impression that they were involved directly or indirectly in some match-fixing deals,” Outlook quoted a top DRI source involved in the exercise. 

Azhar ‘declared’ 16 cr under VDIS

NEW DELHI, May 27 (UNI) — It was former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin who declared Rs 16 crore under the voluntary disclosure of income scheme (VDIS), Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax Vishwa Bandhu Gupta has alleged.

He said this in a secretly recorded videotape produced by tehelka. Com which was made public today.

Mr Gupta had earlier said a recent former captain had deposited Rs 16 crore under VDIS, but had not divulged the name as per the provisions of the scheme which safeguarded against disclosure of the name.

Caught off-guard during the recording, Mr Gupta said “Azharuddin”, when asked whom did he suspect as the declarant. Cricketer-turned-commentator Ravi Shastri also said Azhar had the protection of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. Citing an example of Azhar’s complicity with bookie Sanjeev Chawla and Sanjay, Shastri said he (Sanjay) had bought a watch for Azhar in Dubai recently. In another case, Azhar had bought a watch costing Rs 6 lakh from one of his fans, he added. BCCI Secretary Jaywant Lele named Azhar along with Jadeja and Kapil as the players responsible for match-fixing and betting in Indian cricket.Back

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