By Khurram Habib
New Delhi, May 6 (IANS) The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), a perennially controversial body, provided the Indian Premier League (IPL) accreditation cards to two individuals who were hired by an agency as part-time workers during the tournament, says BCCI Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) chief Shabbir Hussain Khandwawala. The two individuals were allegedly providing match/other information to undesirable people on phone from inside the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi.
The BCCI ACU contacted Delhi Police and received immediate help. Delhi Police are now investigating the case.
In an exclusive interview with IANS, Khandwawala said the ACU will now direct state cricket associations to be more careful while employing staff on temporary basis, following the arrest of the two persons who breached the IPL bubble at the stadium for the “purpose of betting” on May 2.
Khandwawala spoke on various aspects of corruption in cricket in the interview.
Q: How did ACU and police get the lead in the case [of Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium from where two individuals were arrested during IPL]?
A: After three days into the Delhi leg, we saw somebody coming to work — a temporary worker employed as a sweeper. He was hiding in a corner and talking to somebody on mobile. One of our officers suspected him. He asked him questions like ‘what are you doing here?’ and ‘where is your place of work?’ They asked him to show his mobile. While they were searching, he ran away. But we could locate him where he was posted from the research. We got his Aadhaar card etc. We gave a complaint to the police who registered it and started investigating. During the investigation, they found that the other two guys [who were nabbed on May 2 from the Arun Jaitley Stadium, Delhi] were also indulging in these activities. So, they arrested them. This was done together by the BCCI ACU and local [Delhi] police.
Q: What is the status of the case?
A: The police is now investigating as to who they are working for, so that bigger links can come out. All the details, and forensic studies are being done by Delhi police.
Q: How did these individuals manage to get inside the Arun Jaitley Stadium? Are they part of the local body?
A: These people were recruited by the contractors on a temporary basis. Once hired for, say, a week or 10 days, they must have been contacted by the bookies to relay information for some amount of money. Such temporary hiring happens everywhere — in hotels, weddings, other places. In this case, these recruitment were for the duration of the match. The local associations are responsible for hiring agencies who provide these workers. Like in this case in Delhi, the Delhi cricket body [Delhi and District Cricket Association – DDCA] may have contacted or suggested the agency. Even the agencies may not know that their contracted employees could be indulging in illegal activities. They might take them as temporary workers but then these people get contacted by mischievous people.
Q: But they had IPL accreditation card. How did they get it?
A: To the best of my knowledge, I think they were given accreditation by the DDCA. This is what I have been told. This is a case study for us. We will study it and will issue directive to the state associations to be careful while employing staff, especially those for temporary duties.
Q: Is it tough to coordinate with your officers during lockdown?
A: No. We may not be able to meet but we have video conferencing. We have regular meetings; discuss plans. There are discussions before a match, after a match — and whatever is going on.
Q: How big a challenge was it to keep track of such elements during Covid-19 pandemic when there was a bio-bubble for the IPL?
A: Fortunately, in this case in Delhi, the spectators were not there. The task becomes easier, in the sense that there were only a few people [inside the stadium], and these guys could be located. If thousands of people come, then it becomes more difficult for us.
Q: How would you manage it when the crowds are back?
A: With the crowds back, it will be a bigger challenge. What helps us is that by doing this kind of investigation, we try to reach the main culprits. Their details are always with us. We had some details of some people who had checked into a hotel in Mumbai earlier in the tournament [during the first phase of IPL matches]. We got the confirmation. We requested the police commissioner, Mumbai, to take action. Three bookies were picked up along with nine mobiles etc.
What we have been doing is to have the past record up to date, find out who are the main persons and keep a watch on them. You have to get to the roots. Those three persons [caught in Mumbai] were the main persons. After they were caught, betting disappeared. In Ahmedabad also, we had a couple of cases. We are concentrating on the main cases. So, we have updated records of everyone and we share it with the local police. That is very effective. It is not just about half a dozen officers of the ACU, but we also get the backing of local police.