In a sensational claim, Deepak Popat, the police witness in the infamous Bullseye doping case, said on Saturday that trainer Cooji Katrak sought his help to frame champion trainer Pesi Shroff so that "Vivek Jain and other people of the turf club" would then "ban Pesi Shroff and (Bullseye owner) Dhunjibhoy for 5 years."
The explosive contents in the press note issued by Popat have spread like wild fire. According to Popat, Katrak told him, "If Umed Singh and the other accused on bail give an affidavit saying that acts like giving the injections to horses are done by Shroff and horse owner Dhunjibhoy, on the basis of such affidavits, Jain and Champaklal Zaveri will put the blame of such incidents on the horse owners, and will state that such information is given by their workers, and thus they have to take severe action against them."
Popat goes on to explain that the deal perhaps fell through because Singh demanded Rs 10 lakh, while Katrak was ready to pay only Rs 6 lakh. "All this is in the recorded conversations I have given to both police and the stewards of the club," he said.
"Let him allege what he wants. The matter is sub-judice, and I do not wish to say anything now," trainer Cooji Katrak told mid-day on Saturday. When contacted for his reaction, Vivek Jain sent a text message that read: "I have not seen Mr Popat's statement. If he has alleged that Mr Katrak stated that affidavits were sought at our behest, he must prove this ridiculous and malicious charge or else withdraw it unilaterally. We will take such steps as may be advised on getting details of his press statement."
"Absolutely rubbish," exclaimed Zaveri, "these accusations have not come from the IO of the case till today, they are coming from a person whose name figured in the FIR filed by Pesi Shroff, and who is out on bail today, and who was warned off by the club in the Knight N Day case. I would like to know why Popat is making such baseless allegations now just three days before the elections. Is he doing this under instructions from Mr Dhunjibhoy?"
Shroff expressed surprise at Zaveri's claim. "The first time I heard the name Deepak Popat was when I heard that he had applied for the anticipatory bail in my matter in August — more than six months after I had filed my FIR," he said.
Meanwhile, Khushroo Dhunjibhoy said he has never either met or spoken to Popat, adding, "Mr Zaveri is simply insinuating about these things now to divert attention, when as chairman of the stewards he should be talking about the tapes that have landed into his lap. Why is he not coming clean about it, instead?"
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