Did Vindu pump in Bollywood stars' money to fuel betting ring?
Bollywood makes its dramatic entry into the cricket-underworld-bookie nexus with the arrest of Vindu Dara Singh, as cops probe his close ties with film personalities
Season 6 of Indian Premier League is in its climactic stages. But it’s safe to say that the on-field action has few takers now, as every day new exposes in the spot-fixing scandal make headlines. With the arrest of actor Vindu Dara Singh, the scrutiny of investigators is likely to focus more prominently on Bollywood. Property Cell of Mumbai Crime Branch apprehended the Bigg Boss season 3 winner yesterday after he was found to be in touch with some bookies.
His call details, retrieved by cops, reveal that the actor knew a lot of cricketers, bookmakers and Bollywood personalities. “We are investigating to determine whether he has played any role in the spot-fixing controversy. Also, we have a few leads on Vindu’s meetings with a superstar and an actor-turned-producer in a five-star hotel, where he was allegedly used as a mediator to place bets on IPL matches,” said a Crime Branch officer requesting anonymity.
The inquest has also revealed that Vindu had ‘invested’ Rs 20 lakh from his own pockets. There is no account of how much cash other film personalities had supplied for betting and fixing. We have just got his custody and the probe is on,” the officer added. Along with Vindu, Crime Branch arrested Alpesh Kumar Bhagwandas Patel alias P Alpesh (39), a resident of Phopalwadi, Bhuleshwar, and Prem Ramchandra Taneja (39), an inhabitant of Karol Bagh, Delhi.
Police said Patel is the hawala operator who used to facilitate transactions of the bookies, and when they raided his premises they found Rs 1,28,74,500 in cash from his Bhuleshwar office. “Cash for betting was moved around by Patel who charged 0.28 to 0.50 per cent as commission for aiding dealings inside and outside India,” said a source from the Mumbai Crime Branch.
The other accused, Prem Ramchandra Taneja, is a garment manufacturer and also a dealer of automobile spare parts. Sources say Taneja is a well-known figure in Bollywood and has generated controversies in the past. Following the two arrests, police called Vindu for questioning and he was taken into custody thereafter. Call records show that Vindu was communicating with bookies Pawan Jaipur, Sanjay Jaipur and Jupiter, who are all wanted by Mumbai Crime Branch. He was also in touch with bookie Ramesh Vyas, who has been arrested.
Pacer S Sreesanth’s photo was found on Jupiter’s laptop. It is suspected that Vindu was also corresponding with the suspended Rajasthan Royals bowler. Sources say some A-list actors, who had invested money with Vindu, will be questioned by Crime Branch in the coming days. Vindu - who has been booked for cheating and forgery - Patel and Taneja will be in police custody till May 24.
When asked whether police would investigate Bollywood’s connection to betting in cricket, DCP Satyanarayan Chaudhary, official spokesperson for Mumbai police, said, “We are investigating all possible links into the matter.”
Remember this man?
Vindu made his acting debut in the Hindi film Karan (1994). Following this, he acted in the Punjabi language film, Rab Dian Rakhan (1996), which was directed by his father - wrestler-actor Dara Singh. Since then he has acted in many films, mostly in supporting roles, including Joker, Housefull2 and Son of Sardar. He has also acted in TV serials, portraying Lord Hanuman in Jai Shri Hanuman, much like his father did in Ramayan. He won Bigg Boss season 3 on December 26, 2009.