THE BCCI’s Committee of Administrators (CoA), headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai, turned a blind eye to a report about corruption at the grassroots level in Indian cricket.
There were also lapses in a sexual harassment investigation against BCCI’s former CEO Rahul Johri.
These are some of the allegations made by former Delhi Police commissioner and Indian cricket board’s anti-corruption unit chief Neeraj Kumar in his new book ‘A Cop In Cricket’.
On the seriousness with which BCCI officials viewed the role of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Kumar writes: “No one at the BCCI wanted to know what we were doing; nobody wanted to listen to our woes — about lack of resources. I would not be wrong in saying that nobody at the BCCI wanted to have anything to do with us. The 2013 spot-fixing case and its aftermath, it seemed to be, had been all but forgotten; no one of any consequence in the Board felt the need to prevent its recurrence in the future.”
When Kumar, in a presentation, brought to the notice of the CoA the corruption taking place in local leagues such as the Rajwada League in Kota, Rajasthan, which also caught the attention of anti-corruption watchdog Sportsradar Integrity Services, he says he was disappointed by the response.
“I realised I had wasted my breath… By now, I had begun to despair. I couldn’t miss the writing on the wall. Corruption was a non-issue in the BCCI…”
Kumar entertained thoughts of quitting but decided to stay on to try and weed out the corrupt in the smaller leagues.
One BCCI official was more worried about the ‘political fallout’ of the anti-corruption operation in Kota instead of appreciating the progress made by the ACU. One of the organisers of the league was a vice president of the Rajasthan Cricket Association.
Kumar and his team busted a deliberate attempt by bookies to slow down the pitch by watering it ahead of an Indian Premier League match between Delhi Daredevils and Gujarat Lions in Kanpur.
In his book, Kumar also calls for sports integrity legislation to target pitch siders — people paid by bookies to give match information from a stadium before it is telecast on TV in order to take advantage of the time lag in the broadcast. “Their questioning revealed that for every event (fall of wickets, fours, sixes, runs scored etc) they were paid Rs 1,000 by the bookies.”
IPL teams, he advises, should do due diligence before outsourcing talent hunts to private individuals who run cash-for-selection scams and dupe gullible cricketers.
Kumar also alleges that former BCCI CEO Johri’s contacts in high places allowed him to rejoin work after allegations of sexual harassment were levelled against him by a woman working at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai.
“The way Vinod Rai handled the allegations of sexual harassment against the CEO will continue to mystify most people who have faith in the officers of the country’s premier civil service, namely the IAS… But why would he do that? The speculation in the BCCI was that Johri was close to a powerful central minister who took a keen interest in the goings-on at the BCCI. Could this have been the reason Rai was seen to have protected him?” Kumar writes.
Johri did not respond to phone calls or text messages from The Indian Express on Wednesday.
“A female employee of the BCCI called their partnership a ‘father-son’ relationship, where the father didn’t wish to hear anything against his prodigal son, however, serious the complaint was against him,” Kumar summarises.
Johri resumed charge in November 2018 after two members of the committee said the allegations were “false”, “baseless” and “fabricated”. The third member, women’s rights lawyer Veena Gowda, was the voice of dissent and advised Johri to undergo “gender-sensitivity counselling/ training”.
In another allegation, Kumar mentions a complaint he received from young cricketers in Mahendragarh, Haryana about an official demanding sexual favours in lieu of selection in the district team.
“The worst part was that the BCCI CEO and CoA chief took no action when the inquiry report was sent to them. I often reminded them both about our findings, but every time they feigned complete ignorance of the report,” Kumar writes.
Former BCCI treasurer and Haryana cricket old hand Anirudh Chaudhry told The Indian Express that the ACU chief had other motives. “To me, these seem like surmises and conjectures presented in a manner to help with book sales at this time, and at that time to gain a possible extension of his tenure with the BCCI, about which he also seems to be holding a grudge against Mr. Rai.”
Chaudhary also said that no such complaint was brought to the notice of the Haryana Cricket Association.
“As far as I am aware, the BCCI/COA did not communicate any such thing to the Haryana Cricket Association and the only reason why that would have happened is that there was no substance in the allegations made. It was evident to everyone that Mr. Rai and I had our differences and found ourselves at the opposite ends of a cantankerous litigation, possibly that’s why the allegations were made directly to the BCCI.”
Speaking to this paper, Kumar said, “My experience in the BCCI was very different from my experience as a police officer. During my time in the BCCI, the administrators were very indifferent to the issue of corruption. I also wanted to expose certain things related to cricket administrators, including what was happening in state cricket associations. After all, the game belongs to the fans and they should know the truth.”
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