Meet the man who ate a cake with BCCI’s Thakur — and had it too
Anurag Thakur with Karan Gilhotra
Till last week, Chandigarh knew businessman Karan Gilhotra as a busy socialite who loved being in the frame with the rich and famous. A few years ago, Gilhotra, the son of a state council Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) member, had even made it to the Limca Book of Records for being the youngest sarpanch.
But on Monday, the world knew him as a suspect who was under ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit’s watch for his proximity to players during the Indian Premier League last year.
The reason for this change in image was a picture that had Gilhotra, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur and a birthday cake. This was the evidence passed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), and subsequently shared with the media. The international body wanted to convey to the Indian board that Thakur wasn’t keeping good company.
Gilhotra, though, was mostly in good company. Over the years, he has been spotted with the country’s top industrialists and Bollywood A-listers. Gilhotra is known to host lavish parties at his residence and five-star hotels with bigwigs from the judiciary, bureaucracy, politicians, IAS and IPS officers of the state governments of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, among others.
Coming from a small village in Fazilka, Punjab, Gilhotra landed in Chandigarh a few years ago and started ‘liaisoning’ with bureaucrats and politicians. Subsequently, he started moving with celebrities and hosting parties for them.
He recently hosted a Celebrity Cricket League (CCL) match in Chandigarh in which various actors, including Sunil Shetty, Sohail Khan and Bobby Deol, played. He was a promoter of the CCL team Punjab de Sher. In the final match at Chandigarh, he was seen sitting next to Haryana governor Kaptan Singh Solanki and producer Boney Kapoor.
Sources said Gilhotra’s name caught the attention of ICC in May 2013 after cricketer S Sreesanth was allegedly caught on camera with a girl at a five-star hotel in Chandigarh. Sources added that Niranjan Virk, an ex-CBI officer now with the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, had also tracked Gilhotra’s activities in recent years.
The Indian Express contacted Virk, who refused to comment on the issue. “I am not authorised to speak to the media. I would like to stay away from any controversial comments,” he said.
Gilhotra is known for running a Honda agency in Chandigarh and Fazilka. The latter was inaugurated by actor Jimmy Shergill. He is also learnt to own a franchise of actor Salman Khan’s Being Human clothing chain. He is known to have a close affiliation with the SAD, the political party in power in Punjab.
When contacted, Gilhotra said, “I am not aware that I was on ICC anti-corruption body’s watch list. I am a businessman. I have known Anurag and many others like him, including politicians, judges, Bollywood actors and bureaucrats, for the last many years. Being seen with them or knowing them; if that is interpreted as me doing something wrong, what can I say? If there is a database which ICC has created in which my name figures, why haven’t they called me for any sort of questioning or investigation? There is infighting among BCCI members and they are victimising me and my friends like Anurag.”
In the April 22, 2015 letter addressed to BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya, ICC chief executive Dave Richardson, while referring to the Thakur-Gilhotra pictures, wrote: “During the 2014 edition of the IPL, unverified information was received by the ICC ACSU that Mr Gilhotra was seen trying to befriend players and support staff during the tournament and that there were rumours (again unverified) about his involvement in betting on cricket.”
Richardson also added that Ravi Savani, director of BCCI’s ACU, “wrote to all IPL franchise managers in 2014 advising them that they should take steps to ensure that Mr Gilhotra was not entertained by any of their squad members”.
Meanwhile, Thakur accused ICC chairman ICC N Srinivasan of being behind the “procured complaint and ICC advisory” based on what he called “unverified information”.
In a letter to Srinivasan, Thakur said, “This is an intended counter-offensive on your behalf since you have not reconciled with my election as BCCI secretary.”
Source:: Indian Express