More serious crime than bogus tickets ?

| 14 April 2001 23:01 IST

The bogus ticket scam of the final cricket ODI between Australia and India held in Goa is likely to take more serious turn with the police reaching a conclusion that it could have caused damage to human life, if all the ticket holders were allowed in the stadium.

As the stadium got overpacked, the police on 6 April dispersed the crowd of over 10,000 by bursting tear gas shells and resorting to canecharge. Most of them were genuine ticket holders whereas those who bought bogus tickets had already barged in.

Police investigations have revealed that the Goa Cricket Association and the ticket contractor had conspired to print and sell over 52,000 tickets. The Sports Authority of Goa has however told the police that the Fatorda stadium can take a load of only 27,300 persons.

"This amounts to more serious crime than printing and selling bogus tickets", states SP (South) I D Shukla, comparing it with the case of Uphar movie theatre of Delhi where lapse on the part of the theatre management had resulted into fatality.

According to Shukla, the GCA had no right to print extra tickets than 27,300 without seeking technical approval of the stadium engineer, who was interrogated by the police along with other SAG officials. "The GCA had not sought such any such approval", he states.

The police are thus awaiting a statement from GCA president Dayanand Narvekar, the former deputy chief minister of Goa. He failed to turn up at the Margao police station today but sent a fax message from Mumbai that he would appear either on 17 or 18 April.

Holding a press conference two days ago in Panaji, Narvekar himself however admitted of having officially printed 30,000 tickets. He had also stated that there was nothing wrong in printing extra tickets later since the managing committee had approved it.

Though he has expressed ignorance over printing additional tickets, the police have found that around 22,000 additional bogus tickets were also printed and sold to the cricket fans.

Accordingly, the police have already arrested six persons including contractor Chinmay Fallari, GCA treasurer Rama Shankardas as well as Eknath Naik, Narvekar's brother-in-law, who was selling tickets unauthorisedly.

As the police have also established a criminal conspiracy between the GCA and the contractor, it is likely that the GCA president could be implicated in the more serious crime of being involved in an act which could have caused damage to human life.

Meanwhile, GCA secretary Vinod Phadke also got himself admitted in a private hospital today. Narvekar's brother-in-law Naik is already in the hospital while GCA treasurer Das has been referred back to the police custody from the hospital.

Though Narvekar's much-awaited appearance at the police station has been delayed by three to four days, BCCI secretary Jaywant Lele and observer K P Kajaria are expected to appear before the Margao police tomorrow afternoon.

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