|(From top) The field, beside the Howrah Indoor Stadium, where the match was being played; a picture of Rabin; mother Krishna grieves at home. Pictures by Sanat Sinha
Howrah, April 14: The refusal to take cricket as merely a game took a 17-year-old player’s life today.
A disputed lbw in a Howrah club match led to Rabin Ash being repeatedly hit on his head with a stump yesterday afternoon. He died of sustained bleeding in the brain at Calcutta’s SSKM hospital around 9.30 this morning.
Attacker Ram Patra, a Class XI boy described as a “good student” and also aged 17, has been arrested, Howrah additional superintendent of police Milan Das said.
The charge against him, that of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, can lead to life imprisonment.
Rabin, a resident of Tantipara in Mandirtala, was fielding for his side as the neighbourhood game against United Club of Abhinash Banerjee Lane went to the wire.
The Tantipara Boys had set a target of 72 in the eight-overs-a-side game and as the last over of the match began, United still needed 11 to win.
A howl for an lbw went up off the first ball and the umpire upheld it.
“The United boys claimed their batsman was not out. This led to a quarrel that soon turned violent. Ram suddenly hit Bhola, Rabin’s younger brother, with the bat,” a police officer said.
“When Rabin came to Bhola’s aid, Ram uprooted a stump and hit him thrice on the head. As Rabin slumped to the ground, some of the boys rushed out to inform his father, who is a small-time businessman.”
Local youths took an unconscious Rabin from the ground, located by the side of the Howrah Indoor Stadium, to SSKM but the boy was already losing the battle.
Ram’s father, a Group D employee with a technical institute in Salt Lake, brought him to the Shibpur police station last night.
“Ram is known as a good student at Dinabandhu High School, Howrah,” an officer said. “His family is shocked at the violent way he behaved.”
City psychologists said the aggression on the cricket pitch that the young get to see on TV and the ever-increasing hype about victory being a matter of life and death shape their attitude to the game.
“They watch on television how the top international teams battle it out to win. They get influenced by it to such an extent that they carry this attitude to the ground even when they are playing a friendly,” said psychiatrist Jai Ranjan Ram.
He added that intense competition, especially on a playing field, can stoke a latent behavioural disorder in many people and make them violent.
At Rabin’s home, his mother Krishna had fainted several times since she learnt the news. “I don’t know how I’m going to live without my eldest son. The person who killed him should get exemplary punishment,” she wept.
“She spent the whole of last night praying for Rabin’s recovery. But what use are prayers'” neighbour Anjan Das said.
He added that Rabin loved acting and would have performed in a play tomorrow, being staged to celebrate the Bengali new year.
“Everybody in the locality was waiting for Sunday to see him act. The tragedy has cast a shadow on our new year.”
Rabin had failed the Madhyamik examination last year and joined his father Tushar in his grille manufacturing business.
“I haven’t been keeping well this past one year and he looked after the business. I don’t know how we’ll survive now,” Tushar said.