Vested interests try to scuttle probe?

Written by: S K Sham
Published: Tuesday, November 14, 2000, 10:45 [IST]
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"Ingratitude, thy marble-hearted fiend." This stray-bird of a Shakespearean quote may not be out of place, when one describes the fate of those dedicated men, who have worked with a single-minded devotion to help get to the bottom of the match-fixing controversy in our country.

The driving force behind the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Income-Tax authorities, who, as lesser ministerial entities, had done more than their share of good work, today find themselves completely sidelined, with their portfolios taken away from them.

I have a strong suspicion that an influential member of the Union Cabinet has used his clout to change the portfolios of Minister of State for Revenue, Dhananjaya Kumar, Sports Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and his deputy, Shahnawaz Hussain.

No course of action has even been contemplated against those named as having had deep-rooted involvement in more serious cases than at first estimated. Punishment, however, has already been handed out to those who have done an excellent job of launching and all-round investigation and have worked in all earnestness, without fear or favour.

It was entirely through their efforts that the CBI was able to submit its interim report in less than six months, in a country in which such issues hang fire for years.

These three had taken up the challenge with great courage to unmask some of our cricketers, hitherto worshipped as demi-gods. They shook the very foundation of the haughty, self-acclaimed autonomous body, called the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Even the man holding the highest office in world cricket administration was not spared the embarrassment of on inquiry.

Instead of their tremendous combined effort being applauded, if not rewarded, all three were removed from their posts, in a manner that appeared too irregular for mere coincidence. Even as the investigations were going on, Dhananjaya Kumar and Shahnawaz Hussain were relieved of their portfolios and were handed over some insignificant ones. It was a clear act of removal, rather than of promotion or demotion.

Sports Minister Dhindsa had his portfolio taken away from him, as soon as the CBI report was released and just when he had promised adequate and justifiable follow-up action. He had also spelt out plans for making every National Sports Federation, along with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, accountable to the nation.

Such strong language was never spoken by any Sports minister earlier. All that will now remain as yet another promise made, but not fulfilled. Dhindsa's own accountability has been discounted by his shifting to another department.

The game of chair-pulling had begun with the suspension of Additional Income-Tax Commissioner Vishwa Bandhu Gupta. The top officer had given enough indication that there had been large-scale tax evasion and concealment of income by several top cricketers. He had suggested that these cases needed to be investigated.

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