Growing up in the late 90s many in our generation in India were bowled over by a certain gentleman named Hansie Cronje. The South African team at that time had one of the best outfits and Cronje appeared as the right man to lead them. There was an aura of calm invincibility around him. There were some among us who secretly wished our national team to display the same levels of athleticism and professionalism, knowing in the back of our minds that perhaps it was going to be an unfulfilled wish. It was only natural that our world came crashing down in 2000 when Cronje confessed to plenty of wrongdoings in his playing career.
Closer home, popular cricketers like Ajay Jadeja were implicated and never played for India again. Basically Cronjegate was the incident that smashed the cloak of innocence surrounding the game and our expectations from it. Soon after, more cricketers have been caught and now the situation seems to have become normal where we are not surprised to see a cricketer being implicated in some kind of fixing – it is no more a gentleman’s game. So very recently I was surprised when I heard that the Delhi Police had come up with a 2,300 page report against the deceased, former South African captain. There are a couple of questions that I will like to ask here.
I can jolly well understand that the main culprit, Hansie Cronje, can only be implicated – no action can be taken against him since he is no more. The question is what will happen to the other cricketers who were supposedly a part of Cronje’s plans like Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje and Henry Williams. Will they be arrested and put behind bars as Mohammed Asif, Mohammed Amer and Salman Butt were? From what I have understood, these names are not there in the chargesheet, which means they have got away scot-free in spite of the way they cheated their colleagues, opponents and crores of people who watched their games on the ground and off it.
Next up are the bookie, Sanjiv Chawla, and his supposed helpers – Krishan Kumar, Sunil Dara, Rajesh Kalra and Manmohan Khattar. Chawla has gone into hiding in the UK and the police has heard that Khattar is somewhere in the US. However, a police officer has clearly stated that they are not aware if he is dead or alive. I am not an expert on extradition agreements between India and the US as well as India and the UK but if the criminals have sought to hide in these countries it means that India has no jurisdiction over them and worse still, these criminals know that.
Bringing out the chargesheet is indeed laudable and shows the amount of hard work Delhi Police has done to complete the first stage in the process of nailing the fraudulent individuals but I sincerely feel that not much is going to come of it in spite of their most earnest efforts. It’s a few years too late!