No more cricket or cricketers: Vindoo Dara Singh

Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, June 21 (IANS) Bollywood actor Vindoo Dara Singh still can't believe he spent 13 days in jail for being accused in the Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing scam. Now he says he will never ever watch a cricket match or associate with cricketers.

"I thought I'd be out in hours. I had told my wife I'd be back by lunch time when they took me in. I came home after 13 days," Vindoo said after he was granted bail earlier this week.

It was his family's support that kept him strong.

"My wife stood by me. She believed in my innocence. And so did my entire family. They came to see me after I was taken in. I told them I was not guilty of any of this. That was all they needed to hear.

"My family kept me going. My wife knows exactly what I am capable of. She didn't believe any of this nonsense. My love and respect for her has doubled," he added.

Recalling the genesis of the experience, Vindoo said: "I still can't believe what I went through. There are thousands of people who bet in cricket. I haven't done anything wrong. Except that I loved cricket! Now I hate the game.

"I'll never again look at cricket. My love for cricket has cost me so heavily that I'd never again watch a game in my life. I'll never speak to anyone related to the game of cricket."

Thinking of his arrest leaves Vindoo in jitters.

"I never expected I'd be held for so long. When these guys decided to arrest me, there were hundreds of mediapersons around. I don't know who informed them. They asked me to cover my face. I refused. Why should I have covered my face? I had done no wrong," said Vindoo, son of late legend Dara Singh.

None of Vindoo's friends from the film industry spoke up for him. He defends their silence saying: "You have to understand they were not sure of my innocence. If everyday I read the things that were written about me in the papers, even I'd have kept quiet.

"I don't blame anyone for not speaking up for me. If I had done wrong they'd be in trouble. So they had to be careful."

However, he is glad his "childhood friends" stood up for him, and he was "amazed" with the support of actress Dolly Bindra.

Vindoo revealed he was treated well in custody. "During the first hour of interrogation, I told them about my exact connection with cricket. They wanted to know more about Gurunath Meiyappan and Asad Rauf. I came clean. But like I said, I am done with cricket.

"My brothers would often ask me why I waste so much time watching cricket. I'd fight back. Today I realise I was wasting my time. To hell with this rubbish game. It has brought me so much pain," he added.

Nevertheless, he is all for legalising betting in cricket.

"If they're going to pick up anyone on these charges, then they might as well either shut down the bookies completely or allow them legally. The world knows for 25 years where all the bookies of the world stay," he said,

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