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May 20, 2005
Shobhan Mehta, who was arrested earlier this week, has been remanded in police custody until May 21 for allegedly running a match-fixing racket using an illegal telephone exchange. Mumbai police have claimed that their initial investigations reveal a link between Mehta and bookmakers in Pakistan and Dubai - two of the spheres of influence of Dawood Ibrahim, who is wanted in India in connection with the Mumbai blasts of 1993.
Mehta was booked under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (cheating) and under provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act and the Gambling Act. According to the Press Trust of India, police investigations have revealed that Mehta used two mobile phones to bet on cricket matches, though they have yet to seize the instruments.
According to reports in the local media, Mumbai police have confirmed that Mehta was actively involved in placing large bets on the recent India-Pakistan one-day series. Transactions of the wagers emerged after police broke up a three-member gang which was taking bets during the course of the match. "After seizing laptop computers, voicemail assembling boxes, mobile phones and electronic junction boxes, similar to what the Mumbai police unearthed, we found that Shobhan Mehta's name figured in the betting transactions," explained a police official.
Four other gangs were discovered in Kanpur, New Delhi and Vishakapatnam. "We'll now get in touch with the police in each of these cities and find out if Mehta's name figures in the gambling transactions," said a police source. "We are yet to question him on his links with Indian cricketers which we'll know in a few days and of his contacts in Dubai."
The International Cricket Council's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit is also keeping a close eye on the happenings in Mumbai. ACSU sources said that they had informed Mumbai's former joint commissioner of crime, SP Singh, about Mehta while investigating the alleged links of another man, Jagdish Sodha, with Maurice Odumbe, the former Kenyan captain. Odumbe had travelled to Mumbai four times in 2002, and Sodha had paid for his stay at five-star hotels.
Police also claimed that they had learnt during investigations that Mehta used a special phone to keep in touch with his contacts in Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. And in another development, they arrested Ashok Kamdar, alias Ashok Royal, an alleged associate of Mehta's.
According to law-enforcement officials, Ashok was Mehta's partner in a betting syndicate operated from Malad in north Mumbai.
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