Biranchi Moharana Slapped Greg Chappel

Team India coach Greg Chappell was attacked by a member of the so-called “Kalinga Sena” at Bhubaneswar airport on Monday. Chappell escaped unhurt. The superintendent of police of Bhubaneswar, Mr Amitabh Thakur, said some members of the outfit had assembled outside the airport to “highlight the issue that no player from Orissa has been selected for the national team.” One of them turned violent.

The Indian team flew into Bhubaneswar on Monday afternoon ahead of the second ODI against the West Indies, to be played at Cuttack on January 24. As the players and support staff came out to catch the team bus, a fanatic forced himself through the secu rity barricade and “stumbled on” Chappell.

Orissa Cricket Association council member Kamalanath Pande, who was an eyewitness, said the attacker was seen “trying to take a knock at Chappell.” But the latter “showed quick reflexes, and ducked.” The police came to Chappell’s rescue almost immediately, and the attacker was caught and taken into custody.

The culprit, identified as Biranchi Moharana, showed no remorse later, and said he had slapped Chappell in protest against the non-inclusion of any Orissa players in the national team. He also shouted slogans condemning thee Board of Control for Cricket in India.

A shocked Orissa chief minister Navin Patnaik immediately condemned the assault on Chappell, and announced a probe. “This incident is highly regrettable. This unruly behaviour is very bad. Action will be taken against the person who has committed the crime,” Mr Patnaik said.

Mr Thakur, however, tried to downplay the incident. “ person, who during interrogation identified himself as Biranchi Moharana, pushed his way through and fell on Chappell. He was immediately arrested. The interrogation is on.” He added: “Even before the teams’ arrival, we had detained around 50 Kalinga Sena members. But we don’t consider the party a threat to Wednesday’s match.” Chappell, when asked about the incident, said: “I won’t make any comment.” BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah said: “I have talked with Chappell. He made an oral complaint, but at the same time did not want pursue the matter further.” The chief administrative officer of the BCCI, Prof. Ratnakar Shetty, said they had talked to OCA officials following the incident and told them to ensure foolproof security for Wednesday’s match.” Meanwhile, a story is doing the rounds that a couple of terrorist groups — including the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba — could target the Cuttack onedayer. Mr Thakur denied that there was any major threat.


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