The chargesheet in the IPL-VI cricket fixing-and-betting scandal has exposed its dense and sophisticated architecture like never before. How India’s most wanted criminal Dawood Ibrahim, his lieutenants spread across three countries, their pawns operating from some 10-odd cities, and other high-status figures on the peripheries nurtured the operation from the ground up is a story screaming to be told.
The chargesheet from long-winded police investigations reveal explosive transcripts of tapped calls between the criminals and the cricketer-bookie nexus.
Incidentally, through the course of the probe, the Delhi police could snatch a voice sample of the elusive and dangerous Dawood – something the Indian intelligence agencies have long awaited.
Live on record! Cops hear Dawood for first time
As per the Delhi Police’s chargesheet, a copy of which is exclusively available with MiD DAY, the probe was initiated on March 26 this year, when sleuths stumbled on the call. At 9.32 pm on the day, a 160-second-long phone call between two international numbers +9233332064488 (Pakistani)and +971504560616 (Dubai) was intercepted.
The caller from Pakistan, later confirmed to be Dawood, was heard speaking. The man on the other line was Javed Chutani, who goes by the title Doctor in betting circles. A resident of Pakistan and based in Dubai, Chutani is D-gang’s most trusted operative and heads its cricket betting syndicate.
Mystery third person
Cops have no evidence to prove the identity of a third person, who is heard handing over the phone to Chutani. None of the officers ever imagined that the call, intercepted due to traffic congestion in its otherwise designated path, would lead them to something the Indian intelligence agencies have been trying to get for two decades. It is now filed away as ‘D’s voice sample’ in the Indian crime records.
Nonetheless, at the time, the investigators were stunned. For the first time, an Indian law agency got to hear what the country’s most sought-after criminal sounded like. Dawood and Shakeel would never speak to any of their associates in India over the phone, since their calls were likely to get intercepted.
But since it is not usually possible to catch a call between a Pakistani number and a Dubai number in India, Dawood, who was in Pakistan in March, possibly believed that his call wouldn’t send a blip on the system here. But in this case, the Indian agencies were lucky and the call landed on the Indian radar due to line congestion, as determined by the International Telecommunications Union.
Moreover, Chutani had no criminal record in India – part of the reason why he was used by the underworld for spot fixing -- and a call by him to India wouldn’t have ignited suspicion.
Soon after the conversation was recorded, officials began a hunt for someone who could corroborate that the voice in the audiotapes belonged to Dawood. They were successful in finding a source who had stayed a long time with the gangster and could recognise his voice. The witness confirmed that the voice was indeed Dawood’s.
Across the country
Ahmedabad: Jitendra Kumar Jain
Aurangabad: Manish Guddewar, Kiran Dhole, Sunil Bhatia
Jaipur: Chandresh Jain alias Jupiter
Hyderabad: Mohammad Yahiya alias Yusuf
Nagpur: Baburao Yadav
New Delhi: Ashwani Aggarwal, Tinku Mandi
Noida: Bhupendra Nag
Mumbai: Firoz Ansari, Ramesh Vyas
Catching D call
CIA tip-off gives away Dawood
Cops stumbled upon the IPL scandal -- and its chief architect -- with the help of an unusual phone call made between Pakistan and Dubai on March 26. It might well have escaped scrutiny, but luckily for cops, the call spilled out due to line congestion. It was placed by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and picked up in surveillance by the Central Intelligence Agency of USA. The CIA passed on the information to the Special Cell in Delhi. The information pertained to certain suspects who were believed to be linked to anti-national and terrorist activities. The phone numbers were tapped by lawful interception at the end of Feburary.
Continuous monitoring of the numbers provided pointers to the conspiracy of spot fixing in the IPL. Eventually, it led investigators to D-gang’s Pakistan syndicate, operated by his henchmen Chhota Shakeel, Javed Chutani, Salman, Ehtesham. The syndicate was in touch with bookies operating from Delhi, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Kolkata and so on, who, with the help of fixers and local cricketers, roped in international-level players for the betting syndicate.
The main players
Jiju Janardan, Club level cricketer, Kerala
Jiju is a close friend of Sreesanth. Jiju also played with Amit Kumar Singh for Gujarat. During this match, he got close to Singh and had asked him to involve Sreesanth in match fixing. He acted as front man for Sreesanth.
Amit Kumar Singh, Ex-cricketer
A former player of the Rajasthan Royals team, he was close to Ajit Chandila. Singh introduced Chandila to bookie Manan Bhatt at Ahmedabad.Another Rajasthan Royal player testified that in 2010, Singh had introduced him to one bookie named Tommy who paid Rs 1 lakh for spot fixing. Since the said player could not perform as per Tommy’s instruction the entire amount was returned to Tommy. Cops found that bookies had paid for Singh’s stay and air tickets.
Baburao Yadav, Ranji player
A former Ranji player and a facilitator of IPL players to the bookies. Baburao was often found in the company of bookie Sunil Bhatia. In 2010, he visited Sri Lanka and introduced Bhatia to several players. Yadav and Bhatia had tried to corrupt players during the 2011 World Cup.
Manish Guddewar, Ex-Ranji player
He introduced Chandila to another bookie Kiran Dhole alias Munna. Chandila knew Guddewar as they both practised in the stadium along with Amit Singh.
Ajit Chandila, Rajasthan Royals player
The main conspirator who facilitated players like Amit Singh, Sreesanth to the bookies. He was in touch with underworld conduit Sunil Bhatia and Kiran Dhole. Apart from them, Chandila was in touch with several bookies and made crores of rupees from them by spot-fixing. Chandila was part of an important meeting called by co-accused Chandresh Patel and Manan Bhatt to fix the IPL matches in May. Though Chandila bowled according to the bookie’s instruction, he missed out giving signal to Manan who was sitting in the gallery of the stadium. Due to this the bookies incurred huge losses and the bookies complained to Chhota Shakeel and Chandila was forced to return the advance payment.
Ankeet Chavan, Rajasthan Royals player
Involved in spot-fixing on May 15, during a match between Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians, in lieu of Rs 60 lakh in cash. Investigations revealed that Chavan had met bookie Jeetu Tharad through the bookie Chandresh Patel alias Chand, in Mumbai.
S Sreesanth, Rajasthan Royals player
Jiju’s close friend, the club-level player underwent training with him in 2002 at MRF Pace Academy in Chennai. Jiju persuaded Sreesanth to agree to spot fixing for Rs 60 lakh in the match against Kings XI Punjab. Sreesanth was paid Rs 10 lakh in advance through Jiju. It was decided that he would signal by tucking a towel in his trousers. He was also asked to buy some time by stretching to give bookies ample time to open and accept betting rates.
Structure of syndicate
An expansive three-ring empire
The operation had three layers. At the top were Dawood, Shakeel and Chutani, with top Indian bookies Tinku Mandi, Ramesh Vyas, Feroz, Jitendra Jain and Chandresh Jain alias Jupiter.
The second layer, investigators found out, was made of bookies and fixers like Sunil Bhatia, Chandresh Patel, Manan Bhatt and others. And, finally, there were fixers and associates -- former players like Manish Guddewar, Amit Kumar Singh, Baburao Yadav -- to facilitate players such as Ajit Chandila, S Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan who’d execute the conspiracy on the field. Probing Tinku Mandi’s various numbers revealed that he was in constant touch with Sunil Bhatia and one Kiran Dhole, both residents of Nagpur.
Officials learnt that the trio was also in constant touch with certain Indian cricketers. The first player to come on the radar was Chandila, playing for Rajasthan Royals. He had exchanged several calls with Bhatia and Dole through Ranji-level players Guddewar and Yadav. Chandila was using four different cell phone numbers and was also in touch with many other fixers/bookies. He received sums of money for underperforming or getting others like Chavan and Sreesanth to underperform so bookies could make profit.
Helming the business
D-gang sowed seeds, they all reaped the spoils
Investigations revealed that Dawood called the shots on the initial betting rates for each match. The bookies associated with D-gang harvested huge profits off the fixed matches. The gang’s matches had a brand-like credibility and pulled in several bookies from Delhi, Nagpur, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Kolkata and so forth. The turnover ran into thousands of crores of rupees.
The names Dawood and Shakeel kept the bookies in disciplined check while carrying out business and ensured that commitments were honoured.
Chutani was chosen the frontman since his record was clean and chances his calls getting intercepted by Indian police were less. He did most of the talking with India-based bookies like Delhi’s Ashwani Aggarwal alias Tinku Mandi.
Chutani, Lahore-based Salman alias Master and Karachi-based Ehtesham were in touch with several bookies in India and abroad. With the identification of the Pakistan-based operatives, the Delhi police were set off on a trail of leads one after the other, that later facilitated a host of arrests.