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Gun-wielding goons assault Amit Bhandari

Am still in shock, says former India pacer after being discharged from hospital

  • Published 12.02.19, 3:54 AM
  • Updated 12.02.19, 9:48 AM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
Amit Bhandari after being discharged from hospital. The Telegraph picture

Former India cricketer Amit Bhandari, on Monday, was assaulted by around a dozen people during the training session of the Delhi team ahead of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 meet, at the St Stephen’s ground.

Delhi Police has arrested a local under-23 cricketer, Anuj Dedha, on suspicion of being involved in the incident. A case has been registered against the youngster. He is now being interrogated, a Delhi Police spokesperson said.

A star right-arm pacer for Delhi during his playing days, Bhandari played two ODIs for India. He is currently the chairman of Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) senior selection committee.

Bhandari and two other selectors, Mohan Chaturvedi and Sukhvinder Singh, were present at the ground when, at around 1.30pm, a group of people walked in with hockey sticks, rods and cycle chains and beat him up after heated arguments over some selection issues. Dedha was a part of the group.

The miscreants, sources said, were demanding the selection of Dedha for the Delhi Under-23 squad. The cricketer was rejected by the selectors during trials a few days ago.

While the Delhi cricketers and support staff watched in horror, the assailants ran away leaving Bhandari with head, ear and leg injuries. Police was called in and DDCA president Rajat Sharma also rushed to the ground after being informed about the incident.

Bhandari was immediately taken to the nearby Sant Parmanand Hospital, where he received four stitches on his head and was treated for other injuries, including his badly bruised legs. He was in a state of shock and was transferred to the trauma centre.

Later in the evening, Bhandari was discharged from the hospital. “I am still in a state of shock. I have already given my statement to police. I am happy that former cricketers and the DDCA have supported me,” Bhandari said.

Earlier, a DDCA official said: “Police came over to record Bhandari’s statement, but initially he was hardly in a position to talk. He has been crying uncontrollably and the doctors had to bar people from talking to him at that time,” he added.

Delhi manager Shankar Saini, himself a former state cricketer, said he, coach Mithun Manhas and a few others tried to intervene when the assailants got into an argument with Bhandari.

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

“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 senior team players attending the trials rushed to save Bhandari, they threatened to shoot us. Thereafter, they beat up Bhandari and ran away,” he added.

When asked about the matter, a Delhi Police spokesperson said: “It is, in all probability, a dispute over selection of one player in one of the Delhi teams. We are seriously looking into the matter and appropriate actions would be taken against the culprits.”

DDCA president Sharma confirmed that Bhandari was attacked because of a selection controversy. “I just met Amit Bhandari in hospital. He was attacked by 12-13 people. He has been seriously injured and received stitches on his head. I have assured him that the DDCA is with him and we will ensure strictest possible action against those involved in the cowardly attack.

“Amit told me that they were pressurising him to select a player who had failed on merit. They had threatened to kill Amit and had a revolver with them. I personally met senior police officers. They have informed me that one of the culprits has been nabbed and others would also be caught.

“The SHO from the local police station has reached the St 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,” he said.