Three chargesheets have been filed against 16 persons in the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) spot-fixing scandal, including former Karnataka Ranji captain and wicketkeeper CM Gautam, a senior Bengaluru police officer said on Saturday.
The eighth edition of KPL — a Twenty20 cricket league run by the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) — was hit by the multi-crore international match-fixing scam in September 2019. Apart from allegations of ‘slow batting’ by two players, it was found that the bookies had allegedly blackmailed the players through honey-trapping tactics.
"Among the 16 who have been chargesheeted on Friday include five players, five bookies, two KPL team owners and a member of the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA)," Central Crime Branch Deputy Commissioner of Police Kuldeep Jain said, adding that the investigations will continue.
Three chargesheets have been filed in three different police stations. The accused persons include Asfaq Ali (Belagavi Panthers franchise owner), Arvind Reddy (team owner of Ballari Tuskers), Sudhendra Shinde (KSCA management committee member), CM Gautum, left-arm spinner Abrar Kazi and bookie Amit Mavi.
According to the chargesheets, police identified four cases of spot-fixing, including the 2019 final KPL.
Sudhendra Shinde, a former Ranji Trophy player, was the state cricket body member booked on charges of colluding with Asfaq Ali in betting and spot-fixing in the KPL matches. "Shinde colluded with Ali and facilitated his entry into the KPL and has been part of all the conspiracies with him," said Jain.
CM Gautham and teammate Abrar Kazi, allegedly agreed to bat slow in exchange for Rs 20 lakh in the final of the KPL 2019 edition, which the Tuskers lost by eight runs. Chasing 153 runs, Tuskers ended up with 144, with opener Gautam scoring a 37-ball 29 while Kazi struck 13 off six deliveries.
Similarly, Bengaluru Blasters bowling coach Vinuprasad and batsman M Vishwanathan allegedly colluded to fix a match with the Ballari Tuskers for Rs 10 lakh. Nishanth Singh Shekhawat, also from Bengaluru Blasters, has been booked in the betting case.
According to police, the players involved used sign language to communicate over match-fixing like folding sleeves, switching bat between hands etc.
All the charge-sheeted persons were booked under section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for cheating. Fourteen of the chargesheeted were arrested and since released on bail, while two bookies, Amit Mavi and Manoj Kumar, are still absconding.
Bengaluru Commissioner Bhaskar Rao had earlier claimed that the players were blackmailed through honey-trapping. However, the police officer said that the probe did not find anything related to honey-trapping in the case or that women were involved.
Even though the police raided the state cricket association's secretary Suresh Menon's residence and seized some electronic gadgets, Jain said no incriminating material was found. "But we are verifying and clarifying the issues further. We may get a clear picture in the future," said Jain.
Run by the KSCA with the Board of Control for Cricket in India's approval, the KPL’s ninth edition will be held after the investigations into betting, honey-trapping and spot-fixing controversies are completed.
With IANS inputs