Former India pacer Bhandari assaulted at U-23 trials

DDCA senior selection committee chairman Amit Bhandari sustained head and ear injuries and was taken to Sant Paramanand Hospital at Civil Lines.

Delhi cricket has always been mired in corruption charges and allegations of dubious selections at the various age-group levels.   -  THE HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES

 

Former India pacer Amit Bhandari, who is chairman of the Delhi And District Cricket Association senior selection committee, was assaulted by a group of unidentified men during the Under-23 team’s trials at the St Stephen’s ground on Monday.

Bhandari sustained head and ear injuries and was taken to Sant Paramanand Hospital at Civil Lines by his colleague Sukhvinder Singh. The goons fled the spot before the police could reach.

DDCA president Rajat Sharma said that the guilty will not be spared.

“We are trying to procure all details of the incident. As far as I have come to know, it is regarding one disgruntled player, who didn’t make it to the probables list for the national U-23 tournament.

“The SHO from the local police station has reached the Stephen’s ground and I have personally spoken to the Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik. The guilty will not go unpunished. I promise exemplary action against whoever is found involved in this misdeed. We will register an FIR,” Sharma said.

Amit Bhandari (extreme right) with former Delhi captain Gautam Gambhir and coach K.P. Bhaskar in 2016.   -  FILE PHOTO/ AKHILESH KUMAR

 

Delhi’s senior and U-23 team manager Shankar Saini narrated the incident.

“I was having my meal along with a colleague inside the tent, and Bhandari along with other selectors, and senior team coach Mithun Manhas was watching the probables play a trial match.

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“A couple of men first came and went up to Bhandari. There were heated exchanges between Bhandari and the two men. They left and before we could gather our thoughts, suddenly some 15 men armed with hockey sticks, rods and cycle chains came charging,” Saini said.

“When the other boys attending the trials along with us rushed to save Bhandari, they started threatening us and one of them said, “Don’t get into this or else we will shoot you.”

“They hit Bhandari with hockey sticks and rods and he sustained head injury,” the former Delhi seamer added.

When asked who could be behind the attack, Saini said, “I was not there when these two guys came and spoke with Bhandari. He is obviously rattled and once he gives his statement to the police, we will get to know more.”

Not a new phenomenon

Delhi cricket has always been mired in corruption charges and allegations of dubious selections at the various age-group levels have also surfaced time and again.

It has been learnt that Bhandari has alleged that an U-23 state team aspirant Anuj Dedha was behind the attack after being rejected for the National (U-23) one-dayers.

This boy Anuj was pestering Bhandari for some time and he was clearly told that he is not good enough. And today, his hired goons stopped senior team’s training session and assaulted Bhandari,” said an eye-witness.

Dedha’s name featured in the initial 79-member list, released by the DDCA in November for the U-23 trials. As per the probables list accessed by PTI, his date of birth is November 22, 1995.

Sharma, who went to meet Bhandari at the hospital said, “He is very shaken and it is natural. The doctors have advised that he should be kept under observation for 24 hours as a precautionary measure.”

“The goons were pressurising him to select a player, who had failed to get into the U-23 team on merit. Bhandari claimed that one man also threatened him with a revolver. This is shameful that an honest selector was being prevented from performing his duties. I have been told that one person has been detained for questioning,” Sharma, who is also a well-known journalist, informed.

Gambhir demands life-ban

Former India opener and Delhi legend Gautam Gambhir demanded a life ban for the accused.

“Disgusted to see this happen right in heart of the capital. This can’t slip under the carpet and I will personally ensure it does not,” he tweeted.

“To begin with I am calling for a life ban for the player who, orchestrated this attack post his non-selection.”