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Kalmadi sent to eight days in police custody

By The Assam Tribune

New Delhi, April 26 (IANS): It was eight more nights in a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) lockup for India's high profile MP and sports administrator Suresh Kalmadi with a court on Tuesday sending him to police custody till May 4 on charges of irregularities in awarding contracts for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Kalmadi, who was arrested on Monday and spent the night in CBI lockup, found himself accosted by an unemployed man, who hurled a slipper at him as he was walking into the Patiala House Court complex accompanied by scores of policemen.

While sending him to police custody, Additional District Judge Talwant Singh said Kalmadi "would be medically examined after every 48 hours and could also meet relatives and counsellors every day for 40 minutes".

According to the CBI, Kalmadi has been arrested for buying TSR (timing scoring and result) equipment from a Swiss firm, Swiss Timing, at inflated price of Rs 141 crore for the event.

Also arrested for alleged criminal conspiracy and overspending of public money in holding the Oct 3-14 Games last year were two more officials of the Games panel, Sujit Lal and ASV Prasad.

Addressing the court, packed with people who had to be told to move back so that proceedings could begin, the public prosecutor sought 14 days police custody and said Kalmadi's behaviour was "evasive and non cooperative".

He was not "revealing the true facts and circumstances of the criminal conspiracy which led to award of TSR contract to swiss timing in a wrongful manner", VK Sharma said. The CBI said custody was required as "voluminous incriminating documents" had been recovered.

As Kalmadi, dressed in a white shirt, listened attentively during the hour-long proceedings, defence counsel Hitesh Jain argued: "If Kalmadi was not cooperating with the agency, then why did it not arrest him six months back when the preliminary investigation was being done?"

It was a dramatic fall from the echelons of power for Kalmadi, who is also the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president and the man trusted with the holding of the prestigious Commonwealth Games.

He began his day on Tuesday with the newspapers in the CBI lockup at the CGO complex in central Delhi's Lodhi Road.

"He was kept in an air conditioned lockup room at CBI headquarters which has all the basic facilities. He had a comfortable sleep on Monday night and just asked for some medicines which were provided," a CBI official told IANS.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was unimpressed with the action against Kalmadi and said it was an eyewash.

Addressing a rally in Uttar Pradesh's Faizabad district, BJP president Nitin Gadkari said it was a Rs 70,000 crore scam and all those behind it must be arrested.

"Kalmadi had a limited role of deciding the expenditure of just Rs 1,400 crore for the Commonwealth Games� Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must answer as to why only he was arrested when every file related to the CWG had signatures of a Group of Ministers, cabinet sub-committee, expenditure finance committee, Delhi chief minister and the Prime Minister's Office," he said.

BJP leader Vijay Goel asked for Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's resignation.

Stating that they would "come out clean", Dikshit said Kalmadi's arrest was justifiable as there would have been "some basis" to arrest him.

"How can you lap up whatever the opposition says or alleges? Why does it (BJP) not say anything against (former Gujarat minister) Amit Shah and (Karnataka Chief Minister) BS Yeddyurappa who indulged in corruption?" Dikshit told IANS on the sidelines of an event in the capital.

There are now 13 past and present Organising Committee officials who have been arrested. Among them are Lalit Bhanot, a former secretary general of the panel, and VK Verma, who was its director general. The others are TS Darbari, Sanjay Mohindroo, M Jayachandran, Shekhar Deorukhkar, K Udai Kumar Reddy, Binu Nanu, Sandeep Wadhwa and Praveen Bakshi.

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