We've inputs on cricket-mafia nexus: CBI chief
Published: Monday, January 15, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
CBI terms Azhar's charges as 'rubbish'
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday said it has collected significant inputs on the existence of cricketer-bookie-underworld nexus in Indian cricket and indicated that the registration of a case in this aspect was on the cards.Talking to reporters, CBI director R K Raghavan said the agency sleuths were collecting material related to the nexus between cricketers, bookies and the underworld and also the aspect of funding by the underworld in match-fixing and betting.The CBI chief said, ''We have received significant information.... Also in terms of documents (to show the cricketer-bookie-underworld nexus).'' The agency is investigating the nexus between the underworld mafia with some of India's leading cricketers and administrators and bookies. Though the underworld-cricketer nexus has been unearthed, its dimension was not yet fully understood.The CBI in its 162-page match-fixing report on November 1 had expressed its serious concern over growing influence of the underworld in Indian cricket and said if concrete steps were not taken immediately the underworld mafia can be expected to take overall control of the betting racket. Dr Raghavan said once the probe into this aspect of the scandal was complete the agency would consider filing a case.About the possibility of expanding the scope of the CBI probe into the match-fixing in general, Dr Raghavan said if the Income Tax report throws something concrete and new, the scope of the case could be widened. ''It will all depend on Income Tax findings.''The agency is maintaining a constant liason with the Income Tax officials in the match-fixing case. The registration of a regular case would also depend on how dependable the IT findings would prove at the prosecution stage. Negligence of the police and other authorities in allowing ''wagering to turn into an organised racket, particularly with the involvement of the underworld mafia'', was cited by the CBI as the reason for the growth of underworld involvement in the betting racket. The CBI had evidence about the alleged links of a few Indian players, including former cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin, with the underworld criminal mafia. The underworld-cricket nexus was established during the probe into the match-fixing case. Considering that there is a rising interest of underworld in cricket in India and any ignorance to the fact could cause dearly to the national security, the CBI will probe the matter not only within the country but also abroad.The CBI had recently sent a special team to probe the matter in Dubai and others part of the UAE. Teams are also likely to visit certain other parts of the world in an effort to collect maximum details about the nexus.The CBI during the investigation would also probe the involvement of underworld and cricketers in money laundering. The possible underworld mafia's involvement in betting in Indian cricket could be seen in the statements of former India skipper Azharuddin and the team's former Physio Ali Irani, who had indicated the involvement of mafia dons Anees Ibrahim, Abu Salem and Sharad Shetty. The CBI report quoted Azhar during his interrogation as stating that ''Abu Salem had rung him up on a couple of occasions to fix matches but he had refused to 'do' matches for him as he was already doing it for Anees Ibrahim.''The statement of Ali Irani supported the CBI's fears that underworld was involved in the 'dirty' game.The report said, ''It does appear that what may have been small-time wagering (which to some extent is inevitable) has now been replaced by an organised syndicate, and this syndicate has started interfering with the purity of the sport, the report said.UNI