Shoban Mehta~~s interrogation opens a pandora~~s box

Published: Saturday, June 11, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Ahmedabad:Interrogation of Mumbai-based bookie Shoban Mehta has revealed that he had links with Indian cricketers Mohammad Azharuddin, Nayan Mongia andforeign players like Australian Mark Waugh and South African Hansie Cronje, a senior police officer said in Ahmedabad today.

Mehta's cricket betting network was spread across countries like Pakistan, England and Australia, additional commissioner of police (Crime Branch) D G Vanjara said.

"The interrogation of Mehta, who was brought from Mumbai on a transfer warrant with regard to a cricket betting case, has thrown up certain interesting facts," Vanjara added.

"He not (not) only ran a cricket betting racket in the entire country, but also had links with Australian bookie Mark Peter and England bookie code-named 'Black 0365'," Vanjara said.

He said: "Mehta used to bet on the probable result of a particular match like whether it will be a win or loss for one team or draw ".

The police officer said the bookies associated with Mehta used to get 'tips' about "factors affecting a match" directly or indirectly from the players".

"Tips about pitch condition, weather, toss, individual teams strategy, physical fitness of important players and several other matters were obtained by the bookies," Vanjara added.

Mehta used to place bets on the entire match after getting such tips, Vanjara added.

"Mehta also revealed during interrogation that such tips were passed on to bookies by Indian players like Azharuddin, Mongia and Jadeja," he said adding that similar tips were also given to bookies by foreign players like Australian Mark Waugh and former South African captain late Hansie Cronje.

Replying to a question if names of any current players, especially that of Sachin Tendulkar cropped up during the interrogation, Vanjara said: "the name of Sachin Tendulkar did not figure during the interrogation."

He said: "no names of any current player or politicians shielding the bookies had cropped up during the interrogation of Mehta."

He said Mehta had not parted any information in connection with the recent India-Pakistan One-dayer played at the Motera stadium where the match was delayed for about 30 minutes giving grist to the rumour mill of possible hugebetting.

The official said Mehta also did not disclose anything regarding his alleged involvement with a Gujarat MP Vallabh Kathiriya.

Vanjara also claimed that Mehta also had links with Mumbai-based gangsters like Arun Gawli, Arun Naik and Chotta Shakeel. "Members of these gangs also used to place bets through him (Mehta)," he added.

The official also said Mehta's betting syndicate was spread in Indian cities where international cricket was regularly played like Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and others.

Mehta, who is a native of Palanpur city of Sabarkantha district of North Gujarat was a diamond businessman. He entered cricket-betting in 1992 and ran a racket worth crores of rupees with Mumbai as his base, Vanjara said.

He was recently arrested from a hospital in Mumbai by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch for his alleged involvement in a cricket betting case where four persons were arrested on May 31 for conducting a betting racket on the West Indies-Pakistan match played recently at Bridgetown.

More names are expected to emerge after during further interrogation of Mehta, Vanjara said.

Meanwhile, Mumbai Crime Branch officials arrived in Rajkot city and were conducting raids on the residence of Arjun Nihalchandani alias Sindhi, an alleged associate of Mehta.

Arjun was arrested from Ahmedabad recently by the Mumbai crime branch for his alleged links with Mehta.

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