The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Manager blames missing cricketers

Jalandhar, Aug. 24 (PTI): The manager of the local cricket club, five of whose members went missing on a tour of England, today claimed that the action was pre-planned but rubbished reports that he had been arrested in London.

Ravi Sharma refuted the reports in the media about his arrest by British police and said: “I myself informed the police about the girls having gone missing on the same day.” He claimed over phone from London that the police appreciated his role.

“When I came to know about the girls’ fleeing away on August 12, just three days after reaching London, I waited for them for at least nine hours and then informed the police and the police waited for about 24 hours before demanding the photographs of the absconding girls for publishing,” Sharma said.

He claimed that two of the missing girls, Rajwant Kaur and Parvesh, had contacted him today and, after much persuasion, agreed to join the team within two or three days.

“But other two girls, Ekta and Baljeet, contacted me through their so-called solicitor, who offered me £1500 each for giving back their passports. But I declined the offer and told him that the girls should come back before the expiry of their visas.” Sharma claimed that the solicitor introduced himself as Jaspal Singh Sidhu from Southhall.

He also refuted allegations that he had taken Rs 200,000 each from the girls and even promised a multiple visa of six months. The manager said he received only Rs 90,000 from each girl for the 21-day tour of London.

Sharma claimed that the girls had planned to flee soon after their arrival in London as some of the team members had seen them going with two “Indian-looking” men in a car.

He said that before leaving on the trip, he took affidavits from the parents declaring that the girls would come back after the tour failing which legal action could be taken against the parents.

A team member, Sonia, said the girls raised suspicion from the beginning, when they reluctantly gave their passports to a teammate, Minakshi, at London airport.

Minakshi said: “As soon as we came out of immigration office, I was told by the manager to collect passports of everybody and when I was doing the same, these five girls went ahead and even refused to oblige but after sometime reluctantly gave the travel documents.”

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