NEW DELHI: In an unprecedented incident, former India player and now chairman of selectors for Delhi‘s senior and U-23 teams, , was brutally assaulted by a group of boys at St Stephen‘s College ground on Monday. Delhi & District Association (DDCA) officials said Bhandari was attacked “for not selecting a player named Anuj Dedha” in the U-23 team.
Bhandari was sitting with other selectors, watching Delhi‘s senior team play a practice match ahead of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, when this incident happened.
Anuj and his brother Naresh have been arrested. The security guards and some players managed to catch hold of Anuj Naresh and handed them over to the police.
Bhandari was immediately rushed to Sant Parmanand Hospital in where he received four stitches on his head, besides getting treatment for severe injuries in his legs. Bhandari was severely traumatized due to the attack.
When the first of the practice matches was about to end, a group of boys – carrying hockey sticks, iron rods, cricket bats and a revolver – turned up at the ground. Eye-witnesses at the ground claimed that when Bhandari‘s fellow selectors, Mohan Chaturvedi and Sukhvinder Singh, and team manager Shankar Saini tried to intervene, they were warned to stay out of it or they would be shot. Bhandari tried to escape the spot but Anuj and Naresh chased him down and started hitting him with a rod and hockey stick.
“We have registered a case of attempt to commit culpable homicide, criminal intimidation against the two men. Efforts are being made to track down the other culprits,” said Nupur Prasad, DCP, North. During interrogation, Dedha, a medium pacer, claimed he was dropped by Bhandari due to which he wanted to take revenge.
Meanwhile, family members of Dedha claimed he had gone to meet Bhandari to request him for a spot in team. He was turned down by Bhandari and asked to leave. This led to an argument during which Bhandari allegedly attacked Dedha which prompted him to call his friends to intervene. They claimed that the first PCR call was made by Dedha himself. Dedha was later admitted to the Aruna Asaf Ali hospital as he too was assaulted by the security guards following the attack on Bhandari.
“Amit told me that they were pressurizing him to select a player who had failed on merit. They had threatened to kill Amit and had a revolver with them. I have asked police officers to take strictest possible action against those who tried to take the life of an honest selector who was just doing his job with sincerity,” Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) president Rajat Sharma told TOI.
Former India pacer Madan Lal, who too has served as a Delhi selector, put this down to the system – and its bad reputation – in Delhi cricket.
Former India openers Virender Sehwag and , who were part of DDCA‘s cricket advisory committee at the start of the season, condemned the incident and demanded strict action against the alleged conspirator.
“The attack on Delhi selector Bhandari for not picking a player is a new low and I am hopeful that stringent action will be taken against the culprit and adequate measures will be taken to avoid such incidents,” Sehwag wrote on Twitter.
“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,” Gambhir wrote.