Hideouts of accused in fake Sri Lankan league scam raided in Mohali

A day after The Indian Express reported about matches of Uva T20 League, purportedly being played in Sri Lanka, but actually held in Sawara village in Mohali district, the local police conducted raids at the hideouts of the two accused arrested on Thursday night, The Indian Express reported today.

The Mohali Police had booked eight persons after a complaint was filed on Thursday evening and the two accused have been remanded to police custody till July 6.

The Uva Cricket Association in Sri Lanka had denied that they were organising any such tournament, that was shown live on YouTube. Prominent players like former Sri Lanka all-rounder Farvez Maharoof also said he was not involved. In fact, the matches only featured unknown players from Punjab.

“The eight persons involved in this case have been identified as Jolly Sardar, Pankaj, Goldy, Varun Kumar, Suveen, Raju Kalia, Jatinder Kumar Battu and Sahil Khurana of which Raju and Pankaj were arrested on Thursday night and the remaining persons are absconding. We are conducting raids at the hideouts of the accused,” Inspector Sukhbir Singh, Station House Officer, Kharar (Sadar), told The Indian Express.

The Mohali Police is also verifying about any past criminal cases registered against them. “The accused are bookies. We were verifying whether any criminal cases were registered against them,” a police officer investigating the case said.

Meanwhile, a police team comprising two officials from Majaat police station, where the complaint was filed, visited the SCA ground at Sawara village on Friday afternoon. The team was accompanied by two officials from the cyber security wing and collected the mobile data dump to identify the players involved in the matches played on June 29. “The match was held at the ground, we collected the dump to identify those who were involved,” the officer added.

Senior Superintendent of Police Kuldeep Singh Chahal said they have identified more people allegedly involved in organising the league. “Both Rajesh and Pankaj are bookies. We shall make more arrests in a day or two,” he added.

Two groundsmen, who also work on neighbouring fields, resumed their grass cutting at the ground and the nets moments after the police officials left. “I don’t know about any matches happening at the ground. I came to the ground on Tuesday and cut the grass and have been doing the same for the last three days. Earlier, there used to be 2-3 trainees from nearby villages who came for training but they too have not come for a long time,” said one of them.

While the main entrance to the village sees a lot of cars stopping to buy local garden mangoes, a few furniture and sweet shops are also open nowadays.

One of the shop owners, who saw 4-5 cars carrying players in coloured clothing, said it was a bit unusual to see the rush of cars on Monday. “IPL varge kapde paye si players ne te 3-4 cars ayi si. (The players were wearing clothing like in the IPL and came in 3-4 cars). Usually, some corporate or local club matches take place at the ground and village kids go to watch them. But due to Covid restrictions and the manner in which the matches were held on Monday, nobody went to watch. The village panchayat should take action against the academy and land owners for violating Covid-19 guidelines,” the shop owner said.

The Indian Express also visited some of the other cricket academies in nearby villages near the Strokers Cricket Association ground and one of the coaches confirmed that he had also got a call from an unknown number regarding booking the ground for the last week of June and first week of July, supposedly the dates on which the UVA T20 league was to be held.

“I had got a call from an unknown number asking me to give our ground for rent for more than 10 days for a tournament to be played in June end and July first week. It might be the same organisers, who conducted the matches at Sawara village,” the coach said.