Punjab sport of kabaddi tainted with more crime as authorities investigate money laundering

Published: March 3, 2014

A Canadian kabaddi player (C) attempts to tag his Danish opponent during the 4th World Cup Kabaddi Punjab 2013 tournament at a stadium in Chohla Sahib (Tarn Taran), about 55 kms from Amritsar on December 2, 2013. NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images

JAIDEEP SARIN
IANS

Chandigarh  — First linked to an international drug ring last year, Punjab’s traditional sport of kabaddi is tainted once again as authorities investigate a possible money laundering scheme.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which recently booked owners and directors of realty company Pearls Group in an alleged $8 billion agricultural land scam, has now turned its focus to the Punjab government, asking it to release records of the World Kabaddi Cup – a large-scale sporting tournament it’s organized in recent years.

There are allegations that the tournament was funded by private sponsors through black money.

The Pearls Group initially sponsored the mega event for three years, which CBI officials also investigated. The Pearls group claimed it funded the World Kabaddi Cup with up to $350 million, but the same has not been reflected by the Punjab government and the event’s organizing committee in its records.

“The CBI has asked the Punjab government to submit all records of the Kabaddi cup in past years along with the funding provided by the Pearls group. They have been asked to submit records within one week,” a CBI source told IANS.

The last edition of the World Kabaddi Cup was held December 2013, with cash prizes worth up to $60 million given to teams.

Kabaddi teams from more than 20 countries participated, with millions of dollars spent by various agencies of the Punjab government in organizing matches in stadiums across the country for the 15 day event.

Kabaddi, a popular sport in Punjab’s rural areas, attracted attention last year when it was revealed that Kabaddi clubs operating out of Canada, which were involved in events in Punjab and Canada, were linked to a $60 billion  international synthetic drugs racket based in Punjab with networks in Canada, Europe and the U.S.

At least four people of Punjab origin living in Canada were under the watch of Punjab Police for helping international wrestler-turned-police officer-turned-drug kingpin Jagdish Bhola.

Those investigated included Richmond-based promoter of the Azadi Kabaddi Club, Dara Singh Mathoda, who’s denied all allegations, and other former kabaddi players based in the Lower Mainland and the Greater Toronto Area.

Related stories:

 jaideep.s@ians.in

IANS 2014-03-03 16:46:09

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