A feather in Dhindsa's turban

Written by: S K Sham
Published: Tuesday, November 7, 2000, 18:50 [IST]
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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), invariably pressurised or exploited by those in power for some political gain or the other, at times even undermining its independence, is for once reaping accolades, not only at home, but also abroad for a piece of job so well done.

It took the agency less than six months of investigation to arrive at their interim report on the betting and match-fixing issue that had rocked international cricket. Big reputations, vested interests and even a total lack of co-operation from the cricket administration did not come in its way in preparing grounds for pinning several Indian cricketers, an official and a former physio, and naming seven foreign players as well.

Much as we would like to appreciate the efficient manner in which the CBI has discharged its responsibilities, we cannot forget the stellar role played by Union Sports minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. It was he who decided to bring the CBI in after the Delhi police had done a grand job of exposing the nefarious betting links of South African Hansie Cronje.

Even after the interim CBI report was submitted to the government, Dhindsa wasted no time in having the same published so that not only the entire nation but even the rest of the cricketing world would know what the entire investigation were all about.

Man of few words, and a disciplined soldier in the NDA government, Dhindsa did not make public his unhappiness at the manner in which some of his colleagues in the cabinet, who are close either to the Prime Minister or the Home minister, tried their best to shield highly-suspected cricketers.

Why was the presentation of the report to the Sports minister postponed thrice? Why was Dhindsa's deputy, Shahnawaz Hussain, who was outspoken on the subject and forcefully drove a few home-truths, had his portfolio taken away from him?

This was because he and Dhindsa had resisted attempts at tampering the finally-prepared report. The original 210-page report was finally whittled down to 162 pages. The entire chapter on charges hurled at Kapil Dev and the latter's deposition had not been included. Dhindsa, although angry, finally accepted the leaner report.

And hereabouts, one must applaud the way the CBI resisted moves by highly influential people to bail Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja out. Anger, shock, and not a little gnashing of the teeth, amongst the cricket-crazy populace of the country, has been the immediate fall-out of the unmasking of their erstwhile heroes through the CBI report.

Most cricket-lovers want the guilty to be punished severely. They feel that no punishment will be too harsh on those who have sold the country's honour in order to make some fast buck.

The talk everywhere is about these players and their demeaning acts. Not many, however, have turned their attention to the administration of the game, which may be considered responsible for allowing some of the players to run riot with their involvement with big bookmakers.

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