With more murky dealings emerging during the custodial interrogation of Vindoo Randhawa, Mumbai police probing the IPL betting scandal may question Gurunath Meiyappan (in pic), CEO of Chennai Super Kings, with whom the arrested actor was in "frequent touch".
Son of wrestler and actor Dara Singh, Vindoo, according to Joint Commissioner (crime) Himanshu Roy, was deeply involved in betting, earning Rs 17 lakh through the banned activity this year, and had even helped two bookies escape from India.
Vindoo, an actor, sources in the crime branch said, had told his interrogators that he came into contact with Meiyappan, who comes from an affluent south Indian family which is into film production, 5-6 years ago.
"Vindoo told us that he met Guru at a party thrown for cricketers 5-6 years ago and the two knew each other since then. Vindoo spoke to him over the phone on several occasions," sources told PTI.
"Vindoo also claimed that Guru did not have much knowledge about cricket but all this needs verification," they said.
Sources, however, said it was "too premature" to conclude that Meiyappan was himself involved in betting.
"Vindoo made several calls to Meiyappan of the Chennai IPL. We may call the person in question to ascertain the reasons why these frequent calls were made," an officer involved in the probe said.
According to Roy, the tainted actor had admitted to having facilitated the escape of two bookies -- Pawan Jaipur and Sanjay Jaipur-- to Dubai from Mumbai on May 17. After the Mumbai police busted an international betting racket with the arrest of key bookie Ramesh Vyas and three others on May 14, Pawan and Sanjay had gone underground to evade arrest.
"Pawan and Sanjay landed in Mumbai on May 16 and checked into a posh hotel in suburban Juhu with the help of Vindoo. The next day, Vindoo drove them to the international airport in his car and duo fled to Dubai," another crime branch officer said.
Roy said the actor's Juhu residence was searched and three mobile phones belonging to Pawan, a laptop and an iPad of Vindoo were confiscated and data were being analysed. Vindoo, sources said, had a betting account in the name of Jack.
"He not only betted his money but also placed bets on behalf of other high-profile personalities, and for this, he used to get commission for winning. Vindoo claimed he was addicted to this bad habit," they said, without disclosing names of people the actor betted for.
"He been actively into betting for the past seven to eight years after meeting Pawan and Sanjay through another bookie Anand. He had not only placed bets in the IPL matches but also other cricket matches," sources said.
Asked if Vindoo had named any Bollywood celebrity who was involved in the betting racket, the officer said, "Vindoo is himself from the film industry and it is natural that his phone contains numbers of several people from the industry. We have not yet got evidence of involvement of anyone of them in betting or spot-fixing."
The 49-year-old actor was arrested yesterday for his alleged association with bookies. Vindoo, winner of reality tv show Bigg Boss season 3, was allegedly in touch with some bookies arrested in the scandal.
He was on many occasions spotted watching IPL matches, attending post-match parties, and was even photographed cheering CSK team from VIP box along with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's wife Sakshi.