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British international kabaddi player is shot dead at a tournament in India

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British international kabaddi player is shot dead at a tournament in India: Police fear jealous rival or ‘protection racket’ demands are behind underworld-hit

  • Sandeep Singh Sandhu, 40, was a British citizen and captained the national team
  • But he frequently returned to India to compete in various kabaddi competitions
  • The kabaddi superstar was shot several times and died before reaching hospital
  • A investigation into the shooting led by Jalandhar police is now underway  
  • Police believe that the shooting was likely motivated by a professional rivalry or criminal interest in the tournament

A British citizen who is one of the world’s foremost kabaddi players has been shot dead at a tournament in India in what police believe could be an underworld-style ‘protection racket’ hit.

Sandeep Singh Sandhu, 40, lived in Britain for decades and captained the national team in tournaments around the world, but returned often to India to participate in competitions.

Sandhu, also known as Sandeep Nangal Ambian, was shot between eight and 10 times in Mallian Khurd village, just outside the city of Jalandhar in Northern India, at the end of a match.

He was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival according to Jalandhar police, who said his shooting was likely the result of a ‘protection racket’ hit, or an intense professional rivalry that got out of hand.  

Sandeep Singh Sandhu, 40, lived in Britain for decades and captained the national team in tournaments around the world, but returned often to India to participate in competitions

Sandeep Singh Sandhu, 40, lived in Britain for decades and captained the national team in tournaments around the world, but returned often to India to participate in competitions

Sandhu (pictured during 2014 World Kabaddi League) was shot dead at a tournament in India in what police believe could be an underworld-style'protection racket' hit

Sandhu (pictured during 2014 World Kabaddi League) was shot dead at a tournament in India in what police believe could be an underworld-style ‘protection racket’ hit

Sandhu, also known as Sandeep Nangal Ambian (pictured during 2014 World Kabaddi League), was shot between eight and 10 times in Mallian Khurd village, just outside the city of Jalandhar in Northern India, at the end of a match

Footage from the scene appeared to show multiple shooters firing on the edge of the playing field and running away as tournament attendees scrambled to escape

Footage from the scene appeared to show multiple shooters firing on the edge of the playing field and running away as tournament attendees scrambled to escape

Kabaddi, which is one of India’s most beloved sports and played widely throughout Southern Asia, is an extremely physical contact sport in which individuals take turns to chase and try to touch members of the opposing team while holding their breath, without being captured by them.

But the sport has attracted the interest of gangsters who have set up illegal gambling rings while attempting to gain influence over the players and teams.

A senior Kabaddi organiser close to Sandeep told the Hindustan Times that gangsters were involved in the kabaddi game and attempted to manipulate results by dictating which players should participate in the tournament.

Footage from the scene appeared to show multiple shooters firing on the edge of the playing field and running away as tournament attendees scrambled to escape.

The shooters have not yet been identified, according to Jalandhar senior superintendent of police Satinder Singh.

‘We have launched an investigation to identify the accused. It has been learnt that one more player also got injured,’ the superintendent said.

The shooters have not yet been identified, according to Jalandhar senior superintendent of police Satinder Singh.'We have launched an investigation to identify the accused. It has been learnt that one more player also got injured,' the superintendent said

The shooters have not yet been identified, according to Jalandhar senior superintendent of police Satinder Singh. ‘We have launched an investigation to identify the accused. It has been learnt that one more player also got injured,’ the superintendent said

Tournament attendees are pictured fleeing from the stands amid the shooting which resulted in the death of Sandhu

Tournament attendees are pictured fleeing from the stands amid the shooting which resulted in the death of Sandhu

Sandeep Sandhu of the United Singhs pins an opponent during the 2014 World Kabaddi League

Sandeep Sandhu of the United Singhs pins an opponent during the 2014 World Kabaddi League

The other victim of the shooting is believed to be a teenager according to The Times of India, who sustained a bullet wound to the leg that is not life threatening.

Sandhu, a permanent resident of the United Kingdom, was originally from Nangal Ambian village in Jalandhar’s Shahkot area. 

His body has been kept at the mortuary in the Civil Hospital in the town of Nakodar and a post mortem will be conducted later today.

He is survived by his wife and two sons, who live in England.

When the World Kabaddi League launched its inaugural tournament in 2014, Sandhu was marketed as ‘The Gladiator’ due to his exceptional physical prowess and strength.

ESPN’s Debayan Sen said he ‘was hugely popular on the global kabaddi circuit’ and that ‘there wasn’t a better nickname suited to a sportsperson’ than The Gladiator to Sandhu.

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