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Two more cricket bookies absconding after raids
JATIN GANDHI


NEW DELHI, APRIL 12: With two more names from Delhi coming up in the match-fixing scandal, police investigations point towards the Capital being an important nodal point of betting activity in the country. The names of two other bookies, both residents of Lajpat Nagar in the Capital, have reportedly surfaced during Rajesh Kalra's interrogation.

Sources in the police reveal that Kalra has named Mohan Kattar and Sunil alias Bittu, local bookies, as two others who have played a major role in controlling and running the betting racket during the India-South Africa One-day series. Police officials add that though raids have been conducted, the two are absconding.

Investigations by the police have also shown that Sanjeev Chawla and Hansie Cronje are said to have stayed together in the same hotel even in Delhi for two days from March 14 to March 15. Sanjeev's father, M R Chawla, when contacted, denied it. ``He had come here for a family occasion and stayed with us in Noida,'' Chawla Sr told The Indian Express.

The police and the Enforcement Directorate are also said to have conducted raids at Chawla's house in Noida, factory at Okhla and office at Jangpura. The investigating teams seized documents, details of bank accounts and even some addresses and phone numbers of Chawla's contacts, sources said. Sanjeev's brothers, Rajeev and Gagan, were also quizzed by the police and ED officials, primarily about the dealings and contacts of their brother -- the prime accused in the match-fixing case.

The police will also request the Interpol for details of Chawla's travels abroad. Chawla is said to have made frequent trips to South Africa last year. It is alleged he met a South African middleman there who put him across to Cronje.

With Cronje having admitted to have spoken to the London-based Indian bookie, the Delhi police have stepped up the investigations. Also, Kalra's police remand comes to an end on Thursday afternoon and the police are trying their best to extract more information out of him, sources say.

More arrests are likely in the case as Delhi Police today sent more teams to the venues where One-day matches between India and South Africa were played, adds PTI.

The Crime Branch, which had sent a team last weekend to Mumbai, has rushed another team to investigate any possible underworld connections to the case.

Meanwhile, Kishan Kumar, brother of slain music baron Gulshan Kumar, today denied any involvement in the scandal but admitted being friendly with Chawla and the other accused, Rajesh Kalra, according to PTI.

``Having friendship is no crime,'' Kumar told a crowded press conference at Kailash Hospital in Noida where he is being treated for an angina problem since last Friday. ``I know Chawla for the past 20 years and Kalra for the past three-four years. Both are my good friends,'' he said.

Asked why Kalra had named him in his statement to the police, Kumar said ``I am deeply hurt and worried why Kalra took my name.''

About the reported statement to the police that he had placed Rs 40 lakh as betting amount, the Bollywood actor said ``I did not put any money in betting.''

Kumar categorically denied that he had made the payment for Chawla's stay at Taj Regency Hotel in Kochi but said whenever Chawla came to India or went to London they used to arrange for each other's stay and extend hospitality.

Kumar claimed he and Chawla had not been in touch since the scandal broke out.

Earlier, sleuths of the Crime Branch of Delhi Police briefly interrogated Kumar for the first time after his name figured in the scandal.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

   

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