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ACU Chief Neeraj Kumar Removed for Questioning CoA & Rahul Johri’s Disinterest in Fighting Corruption?

Former Director General of Police (Rajasthan) Ajit Singh Shekhawat is set to replace the BCCI's current Anti Corruption Unit (ACU) head Neeraj Kumar on April 7. But the question that comes to mind is the sudden decision to remove the man who has played an integral role in ensuring that Indian cricket has remained corruption free. It could well be the direct consequence of a letter written by Neeraj to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators and BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, highlighting their disinterest in fighting corruption.

Baidurjo Bhose |Cricketnext |March 31, 2018, 5:51 PM IST
ACU Chief Neeraj Kumar Removed for Questioning CoA & Rahul Johri’s Disinterest in Fighting Corruption?

New Delhi: Former Director General of Police (Rajasthan) Ajit Singh Shekhawat is set to replace the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) current Anti Corruption Unit (ACU) head Neeraj Kumar on April 7, the day the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League gets underway. But the question that comes to mind is the sudden decision to remove the man who has played an integral role in ensuring that Indian cricket has remained corruption free ever since episodes of spot-fixing rocked the sixth edition of the IPL. It could well be the direct consequence of a letter written by Neeraj to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators and BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, highlighting their disinterest in fighting corruption.

The BCCI made the announcement official on Saturday and also said that Neeraj has been retained as Advisor – Anti-Corruption Unit till May 31. "A 1982 – Rajasthan cadre IPS officer, Mr Singh retired as Director General of Police, Rajasthan on November 30, 2017. Having served the Indian Police Service for around 36 years, Mr Singh comes with a wealth of experience in anti-corruption operations, investigative work and field policing. Mr Singh also headed the anti-corruption bureau of Rajasthan for four years," the BCCI release said.

For a man who in an interview in January 2018 categorically stated that he would love to continue the good work that has seen him lead a team of three members in ensuring that Indian cricket is free of corruption, will be handing over the reins to Shekhawat in a week’s time. And the news of him being replaced first came to light in March when the BCCI confirmed that the current chief was set to be replaced. The reason, as has been the case in most decisions in the times of the CoA, was not given. It was only said that Shekhawat was considered the best man to take over from the former Delhi Police Commissioner.

But the letter, in possession with CricketNext, which Neeraj sent to Johri and also addressed the CoA in December 17 last year, looks like the last nail in the coffin when it comes to the sour relation between the ACU head, the CoA and the CEO. In the scathing letter, Neeraj not just blasts the two parties for failing to pay heed to his continuous requests to give him more hands to ensure that India’s domestic cricket – most prone to fixing – is corruption free. In fact, he also goes on to remind the CoA that the prime objective behind forming the committee was to ensure that the spot-fixing fiasco that rocked the IPL in 2013 is never repeated. He makes it clear that both the CoA and the CEO seems disinterested in working towards a corruption-free Indian cricket.

“Hardly any interest has been shown in augmenting the strength and resources of the ACSU so that it can fight the menace of corruption in Indian cricket effectively. Not even once can I recall a meeting in which you have chosen to discuss this issue. Not even once have I been asked what the magnitude of the problem is and what needs to be done. However, I, on my own, in my various presentations before you (shortly after you joined as CEO) and before the CoA on May 20 have been highlighting the issue and what needs to be done.

“Not only that, I have sent a clutch of proposals to augment the strength of the ACSU to you, which have not even received your acknowledgments, leave alone any follow up that is in my knowledge. As I have pointed out in my presentations, over 900 matches take place during the domestic season. How is it expected that the ACSU with a total strength of 3 can cover them or at least impart ACEP before the matches,” he wrote.

“Since we pride ourselves in being the leading cricket playing nation it is only imperative that the BCCI has the best ACU to fight corruption in the game. Equally, we should be always conscious of the fact that the biggest scandals in cricket have happened on our soil and they are waiting to happen again anytime soon.”

Taking a dig at the two-member CoA and their disinterest in following the diktat of the Supreme Court which appointed them, Neeraj wrote: “I will also take this opportunity to remind everyone that one of the main causative factors behind the ongoing reforms in cricket was the spot-fixing scandal of 2013. The case, inter alia, became the trigger point for the formation of the Mudgal Committee, the Lodha Committee and all that followed. Ironically, the measures to be undertaken for preventing a repeat of such scandals seems to have been forgotten and lost sight of.”

But what comes as a shocker is the part in which the ACU head says that he can sense that his days are numbered as there is a clear clash of interest within the board. “Every mail sent by me in connection with the ACSU has remained unacknowledged and unanswered. Therefore, as you would have noticed in the recent months, I have stopped sending such mails. Not known to be a man who gives up easily, I have now decided to forget about them, as I am fully aware that my days in the BCCI are, in any case, numbered,” he rued.

Vinod Rai had in fact confirmed that Neeraj's contract would be extended. The fact that the earlier contract was open ended and had no expiry date as per Neeraj means that it was meant to be a long-term partnership between the man who unearthed the infamous 2013 spot-fixing scandal and the BCCI, but things turned sour unexpectedly.

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