By Atul Kumar:
Lalit Modi, the Indian cricket czar, in an interview to Rajdeep Sardesai a few months back, categorically stated that international cricket was being run by mafia and betting syndicates controlled by Dawood Ibrahim and Chota Shakeel. Modi, the star insider, must have known what he was talking about, for the accusation was also substantiated in the report of the Mudgal Committee.
How would betting syndicates run international cricket? They would likely do so by ensuring that the matches were fixed from start to finish, in order to get maximum proceeds from the bettors fooled by fixing – something called Session betting (betting on number of runs scored in a bracket of overs). No bookie would do what they do if matches were not fixed. In fact, ex-Pakistani wicket keeper Rashid Latif even demonstrates how this is done through detailed mathematical calculation and rational analyses in an article titled ‘How cricket matches are scripted’.
A lot has been said and written about match-fixing over the years. Veteran journalist Mr. Shantanu Guha Ray’s book ‘Fixed! Cash and Corruption in Cricket’; an article in The Statesman titled, ‘Cricket in Massive Fix?‘; another book with a thrilling name, Bettors Beware (Match-fixing in cricket decoded) – the sources are plenty but an uncomfortable hush always seems to envelop anything which barely mentions betting. India seems to be talking about cricket corruption while diplomatically not talking about it at the same time.
In another related development, a SIT on black money informed the Supreme Court of India that about rupees 3 lakh crores in black were being transacted annually through cricket betting in India. Further, 1.9 lakhs crore rupees were being remitted from at least one crore Indians in India to one foreign betting website betfair.com alone as found out by our Enforcement Directorate. Putting such pieces together would mean an international fraud worth tens of lakhs of crores of rupees per year, unfettered.
Mudgal and Lodha committees appointed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India have meant nothing as far as stopping cricket fixing is concerned. Petitioning to the highest authorities under the Constitution of India has resulted in nothing (appeals to Supreme Court of India, Prime Minister of India, and President of India by me remain acknowledged without any action for years). Members of Parliament have also been sleeping over this immensely relevant public issue, both for its sensitivity to the masses and continuous generation of large scale black money.
Are cricketers the only ones responsible for this fraud? Even though Lalit Modi himself isn’t such a reliable source, yet it is hard to ignore a man who had been so involved in this process when he repeatedly alleges the involvement of a number of Indian politicians like Arun Jaitely, Rajiv Shukla, Anurag Thakur, Jyotirditya Scindia in the betting mafia. However, the Indian media seems to have developed the art of side-stepping crucial matters. It does bring out stray incidents of match-fixing now and then but forgets them in a hurry.
Nothing has ever been followed up to reach a logical conclusion. It is this behaviour of the Indian media, politicians, activists, crusaders, and celebrities that seems most worrying since it means that there can’t be any hope for a country where everyone prefers to turn a blind eye to the greatest proven fraud of all times impacting and affecting hundreds of millions of citizens.
A striking example of this is how the media is currently dealing with the captain of the Indian Cricket Team. M. S. Dhoni’s name has surfaced for fixing in the media time and again, and he was clearly found guilty of making a false statement under oath to Mudgal committee about Gurunath Meiyappan not being a CSK team official. Yet, he continues to be the captain, glorified with highly publicised biopics.
When we choose to keep quiet or ignore an openly massive fraud involving the who’s who of India, it feels naïve to pour into streets for candle light marches protesting against crimes committed by lesser mortals readily in the grips of the law of the country.