Belagavi Panthers owner arrested for alleged betting in Karnataka Premier League

Ali Asfak Thara was arrested on Monday in Bengaluru and booked for gambling under the Karnataka Police Act

Nagraj Gollapudi
The Chinnaswamy Stadium under lights  •  BCCI

The Chinnaswamy Stadium under lights  •  BCCI

Ali Asfak Thara, the owner of Karnataka Premier League (KPL) franchise Belagavi Panthers, has been arrested for allegedly betting on the tournament. Thara was arrested on Monday by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) in Bengaluru and booked for gambling under the Karnataka Police Act.
According to Sandeep Patil, joint commissioner of police (crime), there was enough evidence to establish Thara was involved in betting during the last edition of the KPL. "The team owner was found to be indulging in betting during the matches," Patil told ESPNcricinfo. "We have sufficient evidence to show that he was betting."
The Panthers lost in Qualifier 2 against Hubli Tigers in the recently-concluded eighth season of the KPL. The tournament, the first T20 league conducted in India by a state association, is organised by the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA). Among the players in the Panthers squad is India batsman Manish Pandey.
According to Patil, the police will, during their investigations, also probe whether Thara, who informed them that he was in contact with a bookie, was involved in any form of match-fixing. "He placed bets with a bookie who is allegedly in Dubai. If a team owner bets we have to see if the was any kind of match-fixing also."
Patil confirmed that the police would be speaking with players and team officials as part of the investigation too. "Ali was in touch with players of other teams during KPL. The players are being enquired."
The CCB is in touch with both KSCA as well as BCCI's anti-corruption unit (ACU) which provides cover for the KPL. "Based on the police report, the ACU will check what all violations have been conducted under our code," Ajit Singh Shekhawat, the head of ACU, said.
Incidentally, this is the second state-conducted T20 league which has come under the corruption cloud. Recently, the BCCI ACU said it had begun an inquiry into approaches made to players from alleged corrupt elements during this year's Tamil Nadu Premier League.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo