A pall of gloom descended on the sports fraternity at SAI Eastern Centre with the death of an 18-year-old shuttler from Madhyamgram while training, PTI reported.

Niharendu Mallick, who had joined SAI’s ‘Come and Play’ course in April, was practicing on Saturday morning with his fellow doubles players when he suddenly sat on the floor and fell unconscious, badminton coach Mahi Mohan Samantra said.

According to the report, the shuttler had an empty stomach and could have been saved through cardiopulmonary resuscitation. However, it being the weekend, it was an optional session and there was no medical team available.

The coach along with fellow players rushed him to a nearby hospital where he was declared brought dead due to cardiac arrest and brain haemorrhage.

“I was on the first floor gym while they were doing warm-ups and suddenly they called me seeing him fall unconscious. Saliva was coming out of his mouth and we immediately took him to the hospital nearby,” Samantra was quoted as saying.

His father Nityananda Mallick, a retired Railway employee, said SAI was not responsible for the unfortunate incident, even as local police pressured him to file a complaint.

“I will write a no-objection certificate. We have no demand or complaint against SAI,” Mallick said.

His father said Niharendu did not have any past medical condition and was earlier training in Beleghata since many years before being enrolled in SAI.

“He was doing absolutely fine. My younger son also plays badminton,” Mallick said.

SAI to launch inquiry

The SAI Eastern Centre has ordered an inquiry into the incident, regional director Manmeet Singh Goindi said.

“We would conduct a thorough inquiry to see if there were any lapses,” Goindi was quoted as saying.

“But the first and foremost thing is we have to behave like humans, this is not the time to play politics,” he said as there was pressure from the police on the victim’s family to file a complaint against SAI.

“I can understand what his father is going through at the moment. I can feel the pain.”

Niharendu did not belong to SAI but was among the 200 students who had come here for a beginner’s badminton course.

“There are a set of guidelines like checking the medical history which we follow for every trainee. They also sign a form where it’s mentioned that SAI is not responsible for anything adverse,” Goindi said.

Goindi recently faced protest from a private security agency after he terminated their services on grounds of laxity.

“They were not doing duties properly and when their services were terminated they claimed to be employees of SAI,” Goindi said.

Goindi said he did not get any help from the local administration here and had to take the help of CRPF to secure the campus ahead of the U-17 World Cup.

“There are World Cup training grounds here and what happens if someone trespasses and dig up the grounds.”

SAI has made headlines for wrong reasons in the recent past with a diploma student at the centre trying to self-immolate after being reprimanded for a late night binge.

“They were caught throwing bottles in the swimming pool. I have zero tolerance to indiscipline. I will take harsh measures if something wrong is happening. I don’t mind being the Hitler.