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Busted: cricket scam-buster

New Delhi, Sept. 30: Like the cricketing heroes who fell in the match-fixing scandal, the police hero who uncovered it has fallen.

Inspector Ishwar Singh, the decorated “cop who bowled Hansie Cronje” and busted cricket’s biggest scandal five years ago, was today raided by CBI sleuths looking for evidence of wealth amassed beyond his known sources of income.

The 7 am raid on the Vasant Kunj duplex flat ' part of a nationwide swoop on 70 officials at 198 places across 54 cities ' apparently suggested a mismatch of Rs 40 lakh. Apart from the Rs 1.07 lakh in cash and assets worth Rs 75 lakh the agency claimed to have seized, it provided a list of the Delhi policeman’s other possessions: a Rs 7.2-lakh plot, a Rs 14-lakh flat and a bank balance of Rs 1.6 lakh.

The inspector, sleuths said, had also invested Rs 25 lakh in a petrol pump in Jind, Haryana.

A red-faced police brass promptly transferred the gallantry medal winner from the Tughlaq Road police station, where he was the station house officer, to the foreigners regional registration office.

In Cronje’s homeland, the humiliation of the late South African captain’s nemesis made big news with the media making a flurry of calls to CBI officials and Indian journalists for the latest news.

The CBI didn’t say how Singh may have built his fortune; but a previous stint with the crime branch’s anti-extortion cell had given him the opportunity to pry on powerful people’s secrets.

Listening in on myriad conversations from the communications interception centre in RK Puram, he had been the Delhi police’s ears, busting dreaded gangsters, celebrities and politicians.

It was one such conversation that sealed Cronje’s fate.

Investigations in an extortion case involving Dawood Ibrahim’s gang had led Singh to tap the phone of bookmaker Rajesh Kalra, who had given his mobile to London-based associate Sanjeev Chawla.

On March 14, 2000, Singh pricked up his ears and kept listening incredulously as Cronje, leading the South African team on a tour of India, talked to Chawla. The crucial lead was the cricketer’s comment that “69 (one of his teammates) will score 0”.

The breakthrough won the policeman a recommendation for the President’s medal in 2001. But it wasn’t his only major success.

The inspector had been the first to discover that Tihar jail inmates were using mobiles to carry on operations outside. It was he who exposed politician Romesh Sharma’s links with the Dubai mafia after overhearing him discuss a plot to assassinate Babloo Srivastava with rival don Abu Salem.

He came up with face-savers when his department goofed. After trigger-happy colleagues mowed down two innocent businessmen in Connaught Place in 1997 ' mistaking them to be criminal Mohammad Yaseen and an associate ' Singh used his own patient methods to help track the gangster down.

He earned a pat with the arrest of criminal-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, solving a high-profile kidnapping, too. His gallantry medal came for shooting down criminal Brahm Jat in Noida.

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