A 25-year-old man in north Bengal is fighting for his life in hospital after an altercation over IPL betting went sour, the second such incident of violence over the popular cricket tournament that has gripped even small-town India.
Two friends of Shafikul Sheikh, 25, allegedly slashed him repeatedly with blades after he refused to bet on a match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Bangalore Royal Challengers, police said, a tie that the former won with a splendid bowling spell.
The incident was reported on Sunday night at Milki area under Englishbazar police station in Malda, about 325 kms north of Kolkata.
This came barely 12 hours after a 13-year-old boy killed his 12-year-old friend in Howrah after he refused to pay up Rs 250 that he had lost on a IPL match bet.
“Both the accused, Anur Sheikh and Saddam Hossain, are on the run,” said an officer of the local police station. Senior district police officers refused comment.
Police say Sunday’s death in Howrah was the first IPL betting-related death they could remember and said the killing underlined the mushrooming of informal betting networks across small towns.
In the absence of formal channels or online modes, local youth often meet at clubs, highway eateries or someone’s home to place informal bets that often run into thousands of rupees. As there are often little oversight, disagreements over even little sums of money turn violent.
On Sunday, Shafikul and some others were placing bets on the KKR match at a local shop. Shafikul, a migrant labourer, had won Rs 15,000 by placing bets on the Kolkata team during an earlier tie with Gujarat lions.
“Yesterday, they asked me to place a bet of at least RS 10,000. When I refused they started abusing me,” mumbled Shafikul from his hospital bed.