Bookies hit Chandila in jail as he played against the odds

Delhi-based bookie Ashwin Agarwal alias Tinku, who has been taken into custody by Mumbai Crime Branch, has opened a Pandora’s box for investigators.

Vindoo Dara Singh
Small-time actor Vindoo Dara Singh and bookie Prem Taneja being taken to Arthur Road jail by the Crime Branch after they were sent to judicial custody, along with Gurunath Meiyappan, till June 14 by a Mumbai Court yesterday. Pics/Shadab Khan

Tinku, who was taken into custody by the Branch’s property cell on May 24, has bared the particulars of the IPL spot-fixing involving Rajasthan Royals cricketers Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan. He also spilled the beans on a score-settling scuffle that broke out in Tihar jail between him and another bookie and Chandila, after the latter fell short of the number of runs he had promised to throw away, thus draining their gains.

Bookie Prem Taneja

According to Crime Branch officials, Tinku told them that on March 20, he and another bookie Sunil Bhatia met Chandila and Chavan outside Ashoka Hotel in Dahisar where a deal of spot-fixing was struck. “In the meeting Chandila told Tinku that he would have to perform in the first three matches. Since he was aspiring to play with the Indian team, giving more runs to the batsman would kill his prospects,” said a Crime Branch officer on condition of anonymity.

Watch out for locket
Sources revealed that initially it was decided that Chandila would wear a white watch to indicate that he would bowl as per the bookies’ wishes. But the bookies told him that it wouldn’t be a clear enough indicator. It was then decided that Chandila would wear a locket round his neck and before every fixed over, he would touch it to his forehead. For every match, Bhatia was present among the audience, waiting for Chandila to give him the cryptic signals.

On April 17, Chandila, playing for Rajasthan Royals against Mumbai Indians in Jaipur, gave the first telltale signal to Bhatia. Though the pointer was conspicuously received, Chandila, who was supposed to throw away 14 runs in an over, gave away only six runs in two overs. Bhatia and Tinku suffered huge losses in the match and Chandila was forced to return the Rs 20 lakh, which he had taken from the duo as advance, officials said. “Chandila told the bookies that he had bowled as planned but the batsman had failed to score runs,” the Crime Branch officer revealed.

In the second match against Chennai Super Kings, Chandila apparently ditched the bookies for the second time, depleting their betting deposits. In both the matches, Tinku and Bhatia suffered an aggregate loss to the tune of Rs 85 lakh. Favourably for them, the bookies had not paid any advance to Chandila for the second match.

Face-off in jail
Soon after their arrests in the spot-fixing scam by the Special Squad of Delhi Police, when Chandila was brought face to face with Bhatia and Tinku in the confines of Tihar jail, the bookies assaulted him.┬áTinku had told the officials of the Mumbai Police’s property cell that during their stay in jail, he and Bhatia attacked Chandila. He was injured and referred to the prison doctor, Tinku revealed to the cops.

KKR chief to be grilled
On the sidelines, Kolkata Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore is also likely to be called in for questioning by the Mumbai Crime Branch. Police officials revealed that small-time Bollywood actor Vindoo Dara Singh was also in touch with Venky to get leads on the team strategies. However, Vindoo could not extract valuable inputs from him. He had even attempted to befriend Venky and players.

Guru, others sent to judicial custody
Meanwhile, rejecting the Mumbai Crime Branch’s plea to extend the custody of Chennai Super Kings team principal Gurunath Meiyappan and three others arrested for IPL betting, additional metropolitan magistrate MN Saleem remanded them in judicial custody till June 14.

Defence lawyers immediately moved the Sessions court for bail, a plea for which will be heard today. Arrested in the betting case, Meiyappan, Vindoo, hawala operator Alpesh Kumar Patel and bookie Prem Taneja were produced in the metropolitan court on yesterday.

Public Prosecutor Kiran Bendbar demanded that their custody be extended, citing that they were required for tracing the absconding bookies and investigating details of financial transactions. But the court was unconvinced and ruled that there was no need for extending their custody.

On May 22, Vindoo was arrested after it was established that he had close links with bookies and was part of the betting syndicate. On May 25, the police also arrested Meiyappan, after Vindoo’s admission that he had been placing bets on his behalf.

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