The spot-fixing expose that rocked the cricketing world yesterday was the culmination of a chain of events that bears considerable resemblance to incidents that incriminated South African cricketer Hansie Cronje on similar charges 13 years ago.
In both cases, sleuths chanced upon the nexus while scrutinising electronic media to keep tabs on the mafia.
“It was routine surveillance on the underworld and mafia. A few months ago we chanced upon a conversation, in which we learnt that IPL matches were being fixed. We started keeping all the parties under electronic surveillance. Later we found that the three players were in touch with the bookies. This is how we cracked this nexus,” said S N Srivastava, special commissioner of the special cell, which arrested the tainted trio of S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan yesterday.
Back in the year 2000, the Delhi police had stumbled upon big fish like Hansie Cronje while it was recording phone calls in an extortion case. The police were monitoring calls made from Dubai by an extortionist from the underworld, who was demanding a massive payoff from a Mumbai actor.
This time round, though the special branch had enough information about spot-fixing, they had a tough time gathering evidence to justify the arrest, especially since the accused players had been using coded gestures in the ground.
“During the match in Mumbai on Wednesday, we faced a technical problem. When Chandila was giving an indication to his masters, a TV commercial disrupted the visuals. It’s then that we decided to send our team to Wankhede stadium,” revealed Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar. It was only after a police team confirmed that it had noticed Ankeet Chavan signalling to his accomplice Chandila, that the order for arrests were issued from the headquarters.