An ugly spat between organisers and a top ranked police officer over the occupancy of a VIP seat marred a Pro-Kabaddi League (PKL) match late Saturday and cast a long shadow over the future of the Patna leg of the popular league.
Upset by the incident, PKL’s popular team, the Patna Pirates, said they were seriously contemplating a move to shift their base city from Patna to Ahmedabad from the next season of the league.
If this happens, it will be a big jolt to fans of the PKL and damage Patna’s reputation as a happening sports destination.
The row took place when a top-ranked police officer posted in Patna took a front seat of the VIP row during a match between Bengal Warriors and Puneri Paltan at the Pataliputra sports complex hall.
This was objected to by security staff of the host team, the Patna Pirates, who had been managing the inner security ring of the venue for the past four of the ongoing PKL Season 4, Patna leg.
The securitymen reportedly requested the police officer to move to a seat in the second row as the front row had been reserved for other visitors. However, a DSP-ranked official accompanying the senior police officer objected, sparking off a verbal duel between the two sides.
Although some PKL organising committee members intervened to defuse the situation, the tiff left a bad taste in the mouth of all concerned.
When contacted, all India kabaddi federation (AKFI) assistant secretary and PKL in-charge Devraj Chatruvedi said he had got a verbal complaint about the incident from the Patna Pirates functionaries.
“They have said they will soon send us a written complaint. We will take up the issue at the next joint meeting of the AKFI with Star Sports and Mashal Sports (the two joint organisers of the PKL),” he said.
“I have been told that during the argument, a police officer was allegedly shouting: “Kabaddi Jaye Bhand Me (Let kabaddi go to hell),” Chaturvedi said.
“Under the rules when live telecast is going on, no one carrying arms is allowed near the arena. However, the DSP who got into an argument with the Pirates’ securitymen was carrying arms,” he said.
Chaturvedi said Patna was a small PKL venue with a big demand for free passes. “The spectator capacity of the venue is only 1200. The organisers can’t issue 300 to 400 free passes every day and incur revenue losses,” he said.
Sources said the Patna Pirates, owned by Mumbai-based industrialist Rajesh V Shah under the banner KVS Energy and Sports, had ‘problems’ with stadium authorities in Season 3 of the league held in February this year.
“Unhappy with the unsavoury incidents here, the Pirates management and Star Sports have made up their minds to shift their base city from Patna to another,” said Kumar Vijay, joint secretary of the AKFI and secretary Bihar state kabaddi association (BSKA).
He said the Pirates wanted to shift its base from the PKL Season 4 itself but BSKA president Anjani Kumar Singh, who is chief secretary (CS) of Bihar, persuaded them not to do so.
“About a month ago, the CS had assured a top management team of Pirates and Star Sports that there would be no trouble from the stadium authorities this time,” Vijay said.
Pirates CEO Pawan Rana and the police officer at the centre of the controversy did not respond to calls from HT to secure their versions of the incident.