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ISL cameraman assaults athlete at Kanteerava after latter complains of equipment hampering training

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Athletes claim the recording equipment used to broadcast Bengaluru FC's Indian Super League (ISL) matches creep into the third lane of the synthetic track and hampers their training

Bengaluru, February 15: A day before Bengaluru FC's Indian Super League game against FC Pune City, a sprinter and a cameraperson were involved in a fracas at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium after the athlete asked the latter to move his equipment from the athletics track.

Athletes move Karnataka High Court

The long-standing tiff between athletes and JSW-Bengaluru FC over the use of the Kanteerava facility worsened on Thursday (February 15) with athletes demanding they be allowed full access to the artificial track at the stadium. Bengaluru FC play their ISL matches at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium and barricade the entry to the playing turf a day before every match. These barricades, the athletes allege, obstruct their training as it creeps into the first lane of the track.

But Thursday's fight was between an athlete and a cameraman employed by IMG-Reliance, the organisers of the ISL. HM Manikanta, an athlete who is training with runner MG Padmini for the Commonwealth Games trial, allegedly requested ISL organisers IMG-Reliance's cameraman Vishnu Kant Dixit to relocate the heavy recording machinery from the track to facilitate the athletes' training.

The request turned into a scuffle as Dixit made it clear that he would shift his camera only on the instructions of his superior. Dixit says he redirected Manikanta to his supervisor, but Manikanta was not interested in seeking her permission. As Manikanta approached Dixit, the latter retaliated in self-defence and struck Manikanta on the arm with a plastic rope.

A tussle followed between the two and Manikanta, who alleged he was struck several times with the rope, sought an apology from Dixit for the clash later. Many athletes training there came to the rescue of Manikanta, but Dixit says he reacted only after he felt threatened.

"The camera was lying on Lane No 3 of the athletics track and I simply requested him to move it to the side so that Padmini and I could practise a 250 metre lap, a 40-second run," Manikanta said. "But he reacted by saying 'tera baap ka stadium hai kya?' I told him I will help him move it too but he did not listen and began striking me with a plastic rope. I am an international athlete and this is how I am being treated if I want to train at the stadium."

Padmini says she was also manhandled, but CCTV footage, reviewed by police and random volunteers, showed no contact between Dixit and her. The footage was not shown to the media despite several requests.

Dixit, on the other hand, said his words were misunderstood by Manikanta. "It's true that he approached me to move the camera and I asked him to speak to my superior," Dixit, 56, later said. "I told him politely that I am your father's age and asked him to speak to me in a civilised manner. He misunderstood this and felt I told him that it's not his father's stadium to command me on what I had to do. I felt threatened when five to six of these athletes approached me and I swung the rope to defend myself. That rope hit his hand and I was cornered." He added that Manikanta kicked the expensive video broadcasting machinery, after which he lost his cool.

A 40-second exercise of moving the camera to the side of track turned into a four-hour-long affair with Manikanta approaching the Sampangi Rama Nagar police. Manikanta sought a written apology from Dixit, who pleaded innocence.

The police, after reviewing the CCTV footage, said Dixit had indeed drawn the first blood but only after he was provoked by Manikanta. "Both parties agreed to compromise and gave undertakings to the police that they will co-operate with each other in the future," Ganesh Rao, SR Nagar police inspector, said. "The undertaking mentions that both parties and JSW-Bengaluru FC will ensure that such incidents will not lead to any law and order situation." Manikanta later claimed the cameraman apologised for assaulting him.

Cables and wires

Cables and wires

Athletes say cables on the synthetic track at the Kanteerava hamper running

Track trouble

Track trouble

Athletes claim the football billboards eat into a lane of the synthetic track.

Knocking on court's doors

Knocking on court's doors

Athletes have moved the Karnataka High Court over unavailability of the synthetic track for their training

Synthetic problem

Synthetic problem

Athletes say they fear injuries due to the barricades put up by JSW-Bengaluru and the Indian Super League.

Athletes earlier moved the Karnataka High Court over the unavailability of the synthetic track for athletes' training and demanded that the Karnataka sports ministry (Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports) cancel a deal with Bengaluru FC, which grants them the use of the stadium for playing football matches.

The Karnataka Amateur Athletics Association (KAAA) says it will use Thursday's harassment incident at the Karnataka High Court to further push for the DYES-BFC deal to be cancelled.

"I never expected it to come to this (alleged violent conduct). This is an example of all the problems we have faced thus far. We will present this to the concerned authorities to show how difficult it has been for us," KAAA secretary Chandrashekhar Rai said.

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    Story first published: Thursday, February 15, 2018, 21:40 [IST]
    Other articles published on Feb 15, 2018
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