Noose tightens around Gurunath, umpire Rauf removed

Mumbai/Chennai/New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) The mess in the Indian Premier League (IPL) just got bigger as Mumbai police Thursday ordered Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of Indian cricket board chief N. Srinivasan, to get in touch with them by Friday evening, while top Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf, who has been officiating in IPL matches, was removed from next month’s ICC Champions Trophy.

A team of Mumbai police led by Investigating Officer Nandkumar Gopale served the orders at the Chennai residence of Meiyappan, chief executive of Chennai Super Kings team of the IPL, in the evening, a Mumbai police official said.

There mess got deeper by the evening as the International Cricket Council (ICC) removed Rauf from next month’s Champions Trophy in England and Wales after his name cropped up in the Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing scandal. His removal from the Champions trophy was surprising as his name hasn’t been linked directly with the scandal.

In Chennai, a team of four Mumbai police personnel turned up at Meiyappan’s residence without much hope. Meiyappan was not available at his house and his current whereabouts were not known.

“We have served the summons to Meiyappan, one was stuck on the main door of his home on Cenotaph Road in Alwarpeth, Chennai, and another was accepted by a manager in the Chennai Super Kings office at Coromandel Towers today,” Joint Police Commissioner (Crime) Himanshu Roy, who is directing the probe in the scam told media-persons told reporters in Mumbai.

He added that the developments took place after intensive interrogation of arrested Bollywood actor Vindu Dara Singh and inspection of records of his phone calls with Meiyappan and some bookies.

“We are hopeful that Meiyappan will cooperate with police. In case he fails to show up within the allotted time, there are procedures in law to ensure his availability, but it would not augur well,” Roy added, hinting at the possibility of arrest.

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Srinivasan, who is based in Chennai, was not available for comments.

The crime branch of Mumbai police has constituted a special eight-member team to probe the scam and conduct operations at various locations revealed by bookies and others arrested accused, Roy said.

In a related development, Nashik police nabbed five punters who were allegedly betting in the ongoing IPL tournament following a raid in the city late Wednesday.

The police have recovered around a dozen cell-phones, a laptop and other incriminating material used for betting from the Sai Palace Bungalow in Nashik.

While three of those arrested are from Nashik, the rest are from Buldana district of eastern Maharashtra, officials said.

Meanwhile, ICC said it took the decision to drop Rauf after media reports indicated that the 57-year-old umpire was under investigation by Mumbai police. Rauf, who is an ICC Elite Panel umpire, has been officiating at matches in the IPL since the inaugural season in 2008.

“In the wake of reports that the Mumbai police are conducting an investigation into Asad Rauf’s activities, we feel that it is in Asad’s best interests as well as those of the sport and the event itself that he is withdrawn from participating in the ICC Champions Trophy,” said ICC chief executive Dave Richardson.

The Pakistani was also in the news last year after he was accused of sexually exploiting a Mumbai-based model Leena Kapoor. Leena had filed a complaint with Mumbai police against Rauf but retracted after six months.

Delhi Police also revealed that Ajit Chandila, arrested Rajasthan Royals player, had received Rs.12 lakh for spot fixing in IPL 2012 matches.

“Chandila received the money from arrested bookie Sunil Bhatia for spot fixing in last year’s matches,” said a police official after custodial questioning of the two accused.

Since Chandila could not make it to the playing 11 in all his team matches, Bhatia asked him to return part of his money, police said.

Chandila allegedly agreed to pay back Rs.4 lakh through cheque. “He managed to return Bhatia’s money before this year’s IPL,” said an official.

The cricketer issued a cheque of Rs.4 lakh to Bhatia Dec 12, 2012 but it bounced on being presented. He again issued a cheque Feb 10 but that was also dishonoured. The third cheque for the same amount was issued a few days later and that was deposited in the receiver’s account, he said.

Delhi Police arrested Rajasthan Royals cricketers S. Sreesanth, Chandila and Ankeet Chavan and 11 bookies in a post-midnight operation in Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad May 16, exposing the spot fixing scam.

They were arrested for spot fixing in IPL matches for payments of up to Rs.60 lakh, just for giving away a pre-determined number of runs in an over. Four more bookies were arrested later.

It is also not the first time that an umpire has been linked with spot-fixing.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) had banned international umpire Nadir Shah for 10 years after an Indian TV channel, India TV, exposed that he was apparently willing to fix matches for cash.

The TV channel also exposed Pakistani international umpire Nadeem Ghauri, who has also been slapped with a four-year ban by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

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