Former India pacer Amit Bhandari, who is chairman of the DDCA senior selection committee, was on Monday assaulted by a group of unidentified men, led by a rejected U-23 player, during the Delhi senior team’s practice game at the St Stephen’s ground. The senior team is gearing up for Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (National Twenty20 tournament), starting February 21.
Bhandari sustained head and ear injuries and was taken to Sant Paramanand Hospital at Civil Lines by his colleague Sukhvinder Singh. The goons along with the player in question fled before the cops could reach the spot.
“We are looking into the matter and a case will be registered after recording the statement of the victim,” Nupur Prasad, Deputy Commissioner of Police (north) said.
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,” an eye witness told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
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.
Disgusted to see this happen right in the heart of the Capital. This can’t slip under the carpet and I will personally ensure it doesn’t. To begin with I am calling for a life ban from all cricket for the player who orchestrated this attack post his non-selection. https://t.co/RpS6fzTcNl
Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) president Rajat Sharma told PTI that guilty will not be spared.
“I have personally spoken to the Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik. The guilty will not go unpunished. We will register an FIR,” Sharma said. 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 the 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.
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.” Delhi’s senior 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 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy probables play a trial game. “A couple of men first came and went up to Bhandari. There was a heated exchange 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 senior team players 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 attacked Bhandari with hockey sticks and rods as he tried to run away and he sustained head injury,” the former Delhi seamer added. According to an eye witness, Dedha and his accomplices chased Bhandari in front of the senior team players as the former India pacer ran for his life.
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.” 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.