Difficult to rid sport of corruption: BCCI’s anti-corruption head Neeraj Kumar
CHENNAI: Former Delhi top cop and BCCI’s anti-corruption head Neeraj Kumar was at the forefront of the investigative agencies, which cracked one of the biggest scams in Indian cricket. From the 2000 match-fixing controversy to the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal, the IPS officer had played his part in exposing the ugly face of the gentlemen’s game before joining the BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) in 2015.
With the image of the game suffering yet another blow following reports of corruption in various domestic T20 competitions like the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) and Karnataka Premier League (KPL), Kumar is again in the spotlight. The 65-year-old, however, feels it’s impossible to free cricket of corruption.
“It’s just like saying that a city would be free of crimes. You can only keep such things (corrupt practices) under control but can never eradicate them completely. Players need to be educated. They should realise stakes are very high for them and one wrong move can end their careers forever,” added the 1976 batch IPS Officer.
Sharing his past experiences as the BCCI’s ACU head, Kumar said small-time cricketers are more vulnerable to corruption, which has not spared even some the biggest names of world cricket. “When former cricketers like Sanath Jayasuriya can stoop so low, then forget about local players featuring in these domestic leagues. The onus is on the organisers to keep their respective leagues free of corruption. Players have to be kept under constant vigil. They should not be allowed to mingle with strangers and outsiders while the league is on. Even these restrictions will have little impact if the cricketers agree to compromise their integrity.”
But Kumar felt the programmes carried out by BCCI over the years have started bearing fruit with more cricketers coming out and reporting corrupt approaches.
The ACU doesn’t have punitive powers. Neither can it detain or interrogate suspects on its own, without the help of local police. This acts as a deterrent when it comes to fighting the menace.
“It affects the functioning of the unit. Despite the handicap, the ACU can tie up with local police if they have concrete evidence. The evidence can be shared with the cops and a joint operation can be carried out. We did that when we busted a betting racket at the Rajputana Premier League (in 2017). The action yielded result as several corrupt leagues were abandoned thereafter and many of those involved with them were forced to flee the country.”