Many in Himachal might now fall over each other to bestow cash and other awards on Subedar Vijay Kumar for bagging a silver in 25m rapid fire pistol event in London Olympics, but the ace marksman was not even considered fit enough for 'Himachal Gaurav Puraskar' and 'Parshuram award' in the past.
The Himachal government was quick enough to announce Rs one crore award to the 27-year-old shooter, but many might not know that Vijay had written to chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal in May last, asking why his name was not cleared for Himachal Gaurav Puraskar last year. "Sir, in year 2006, I was given Arjuna Award for my good performance at the international level by the central government. But I didn't get any sports award from the state government. Last year, I had applied for Himachal Gaurav Puraskar, but my name was not cleared," the army man said in the letter.
Kumar had applied for Parshuram award and Himachal Gaurav Puraskar this year.
"I am Vijay Kumar, an international player in pistol shooting. I am approaching you for Parshuram state sports award and Himachal Gaurav Puraskar," read the letter, which Vijay had also forwarded to Hindustan Times.
"Vijay had applied for both awards last year but was not considered," confirmed Subedar Banku Ram (retd), Vijay's father. "Rather, players junior to Vijay were conferred Parshuram award," he said.
"Government officials in Shimla told us that since Vijay did not represent Himachal in shooting, his name could not be considered," Banku Ram said, adding that chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had at last announced Himachal Gaurav Puraskar for Vijay, who was given the Arjuna award in 2006. Last year, kabaddi player Priyanka Negi was conferred Parshuram award, comprising Rs 10 lakh and another Rs 50,000 for studies at a state-level function.
The opposition Congress on Saturday tried to give a political twist to the government announcement of Rs one-crore reward to the marksman. State Congress chief Kaul Singh Thakur guardedly welcomed the government announcement. "Vijay has won 17 gold medals in international events and 80 gold medals in national games. The state government should have conferred Himachal Gaurav Puraskar much earlier," Thakur said demanding increased reward money for the Olympian.