Serving hockey for more than 21 years brought no reward to Punjab Police's lone international umpire, who remains at the position of constable since his joining in 1992. This in a place where all six additional deputy commissioners of police (ADCPs) are from the sports quota.
Ripudaman Sharma (43) has stood as Hockey India umpire in six international tournaments, and from November 2 to 10, he will officiate in the men's Asian Champions Trophy at Kakamigahara in Japan. Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia; Premier Division Hockey League in Dhaka; 11th South Asian Games in Dhaka, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Cup Tournament in Muscat (Oman); and Boys' (under-18) Asia Cup in Singapore were his earlier assignments. "It would be a matter of pride for any employer, but to Punjab Police, it seems to have no value," said Sharma.
All people who played hockey with him are at much higher posts police. "For me, there is no recognition and encouragement," said Sharma, posted at Police Lines in Kapurthala. "My parents pressed me many times to complete education and take up a good job but, at that time, hockey was my only passion and my chosen career," he said, adding: "I now realise it was a mistake."
Sharma passed the national hockey umpire examination in December 1999. In 2002, he was promoted as an officiating head constable because of his contribution to hockey. In 2003, he was deployed as assistant coach of Punjab Police hockey team. In 2006, based on a writ petition, the Punjab and Haryana high court directed the state government to revert the status of all of nearly 300 promoted policemen, and he became a constable again.
"All demoted policemen met the-then chief minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, after which special cadres (ex-cadre and dying-cadre) were created to adjust 225 players, who were promoted. I must be out on national duty at that time, and so I missed the promotion. I came to know about this years later. Since then, I am fighting for my right," sud Sharma.
Two years ago, he met the-then director general of police, Hardeep Singh Dhillon, on whose directions, he applied for promotion again. He has no idea what happened to his request. Sharma's most free time now goes into training schoolchildren at Guru Nanak Stadium here. "At the international level, people recognise my umpiring skills, for which, I have won many citations but being ignored by employer hurts me a lot," he said.