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Head of India's Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee Arrested


New Delhi Commonwealth Games organizing committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi, who was fired from his job in January, arrives at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office in New Delhi, Apr 25 2011

New Delhi Commonwealth Games organizing committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi, who was fired from his job in January, arrives at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office in New Delhi, Apr 25 2011

The former head of the Organizing Committee of the Commonwealth Games, Suresh Kalmadi, was taken into custody Monday after being summoned for questioning by federal police.

A spokeswoman for the Central Bureau of Investigation, Dharini Mishra, said Kalmadi has been arrested for allegedly favoring a Swiss firm which was awarded a contract for timers and scoring equipment.

"It is alleged that the officials of the organizing committee had conspired with representatives of the private firm in Switzerland and the contract for timing, scoring result was awarded by wrongfully restricting and eliminating competition from other suppliers in a premeditated and planned manner," said Mishra.

Kalmadi was removed from his post as head of the organizing committee of the Commonwealth Games in January. He is the third senior official to be arrested in connection with graft related to the sporting event, which was held in New Delhi last October.

Kalmadi, who is a lawmaker of the ruling Congress Party, has consistently said he is innocent.

The Commonwealth Games were the biggest sporting spectacle India had staged in 30 years, and were expected to mark a high point in the country’s emergence on the global stage. But the event turned into a huge national embarrassment as charges of large-scale corruption, delays, poor organization and shoddy work at sporting venues dominated headlines. The event cost six billion dollars - far higher than original estimates. There are complaints that nearly a third of the money may have been misappropriated.

Amid an angry outcry by the public and opposition parties, the government promised to investigate graft charges and punish the guilty.

After Kalmadi’s arrest, a spokesperson for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, Nirmala Sitharaman, said investigations should be fast-tracked to nab all those guilty.

"Others who are involved and others who are probably till now not even named, bigger more influential people who had a role to play in this, should all be brought to book," said Sitharaman.

The charges of widespread graft related to the organization of the Games turned the spotlight on corruption in India involving billions of dollars. In the months since, an even bigger scandal involving the possible loss of $36 billion to government revenues due to the sale of telecom spectrum at lower-than-market prices has dominated headlines.

The charges of widespread corruption have placed the Congress-led government on the defensive, and put pressure on the government to enact a tough anti-corruption law.

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