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Indian Sports Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa
"I would advise Azhar to stay out until he is cleared"
 real 28k

Friday, 16 June, 2000, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
Azhar 'should stay out of squad'
Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin
Azharuddin is due to appear before Indian investigators
Indian Sports Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa says star player Mohammad Azharuddin should stay out of the national squad until he is cleared of match-fixing allegations.

The Indian batsman and former team captain was named on Thursday by former South African skipper Hansie Cronje.

Cronje told the King Commission into match-fixing in Cape Town that Azharuddin had introduced him to a bookie in India.

"It is a serious allegation," Mr Dhindsa told BBC News Online.


I advise not only Azharuddin, but everybody against whom serious allegations have been made. . . to stay out of cricket till these allegations are investigated

Indian Sports Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa

"I advise not only Azharuddin, but everybody against whom serious allegations have been made by senior cricketers to stay out of cricket till these allegations are investigated".

The minister said he had nothing against Azharuddin - he also wanted cricketers like Kapil Dev to stay out of the team until they are cleared.

He said he was just offering advice and would not put any pressure on the Indian Cricket Board to keep these players out of the team.

Mr Dhindsa also reiterated his offer of leniency for cricketers who come clean on the match-fixing issue.

"They should come forward, as Mr Cronje and other players have done, and they should reveal the truth," he said.

"They will definitely be considered for leniency."


Dhindsa
Sports Minister Dhindsa: Has reiterated leniency offer
But he promised severe punishment to those who do not disclose the truth and are found guilty of allegations made against them.

Asked if the India was doing enough to investigate match-fixing allegations, Mr Dhindsa said he was happy with the work of India's premier investigating agency, the CBI.

But he expressed disappointment with the Indian Cricket Board for not submitting a report on the code of conduct.

"They promised me, on 27 April, that they will submit the report within three months, but two months have already passed without a response," Mr Dhindsa said.

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See also:

15 Jun 00 | South Asia
Azhar accuses Cronje of vendetta
28 Apr 00 | South Asia
High-level cricket inquiry in India
13 Jun 00 | Cricket
Umpire threatens to sue Bacher
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