Did Delhi cops spring one on Mumbai Crime Branch?

Mumbai Crime Branch’s loss is Delhi Police’s gain. After cops in the Capital arrested three Rajasthan Royals cricketers and 11 bookies for their involvement in the IPL spot-fixing racket, questions have been raised whether the Mumbai Police missed a chance to add a feather to its cap.

Cricketers S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila were arrested yesterday morning. However, on Tuesday, the property cell of the Mumbai Police had arrested three cricket bookies — Ramesh Vyas, Ashok Vyas and Pandurang Kadam — from a flat in south Mumbai’s Kalbadevi area for running a betting racket. During their interrogations, Mumbai police learnt about the involvement of a fourth bookie named Tikku, who is wanted by the police. The police was also on the lookout for a person named Jupiter, also wanted in the case.

Senior Police Inspector Nandkumar Gopale, property cell, said, “Tikku was arrested by Delhi police on Thursday, and is a wanted accused in a case that we are investigating. Similarly, Jupiter who was arrested is also wanted by us, as well as the Delhi police.”

The Mumbai Police team recovered 92 phones, of which 30 phones were used to transfer calls to Pakistan, while three phones were specifically used to transfer calls from Dubai.

Sources revealed that Delhi Police, who were already investigating the nexus, received a bolt from the blue when they learnt of Mumbai Police’s operations. They may have been forced to spring into action, soucres said.

“The surveillance operation by Delhi police that began in April could have easily been put on hold till the end of this IPL season. Fearing sabotage, the Delhi police hurried with the arrests,” said an officer from the Mumbai Crime Branch, on condition of anonymity.

The Delhi Police who acclaimed nationwide attention after the arrests in an hour-long press conference yesterday, never spoke about the network’s link with the betting group arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch.

Late last night, the property cell officials arrested one more bookie — Pravin Behra — from Bhandup, and Airtel retailer Virchand Shah from Kalachowkie, who had provided the SIM cards to the three arrested bookies.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy said, “While working on the case, one more bookie and the person who supplied SIM cards to the syndicate were arrested yesterday.”

Meanwhile, Mumbai Crime Branch officials said that Delhi Police is always benefited during investigations, as they have easy access to the central government agencies. All the sanctions required for phone tapping are made easily available to them, whereas the Mumbai Police face a tough time in getting the requisite clearances, officials said.

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