Punjab Badminton Association (PBA) general secretary Rajinder Kalsi is under fire for recommending the names of 46-year-old Tarn Taran senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manmohan Sharma and former referee 49-year-old Apinder Sabharwal for an international tournament in Iceland.
Kalsi had sent the two names to the Badminton Association of India (BAI).
Current as well as former badminton players have demanded Kalsi's dismissal, while the BAI has put the onus on the PBA for recommending the names of two players without taking into account their age.
BAI director coordinator TPS Puri, who coordinates between the state and the national body, told HT that the names of the SSP and the ex-referee were recommended for the tournament on the basis of a panel suggested by the PBA.
"Even though age is no bar in low-profile international tournaments like the one organised in Iceland, when the BAI came to know about the duo's age, both were told to withdraw their names, and they did so. But they still went to Iceland since their tickets were already booked and their visa was in place," said Puri.
A Hindustan Times investigation revealed that the PBA denied berths to genuine, deserving players while recommending the names of the SSP and the former referee.
In May last year, Kalsi had turned down a request by Amritsar-based former state-level champion and national player Mayank Sharma to play international matches. "The selection committee recommends that the players who have reached quarterfinals in singles and semifinals of doubles in domestic events be only eligible to participate in various international events," reads the note sent signed by chief national coach P Gopichand, BAI president Dr Akhilesh Das Gupta, and other members of the committee.
The whistleblower in this case, Navi Mumbai shuttler Nikhar Garg, 21, was recently denied participation in the Vietnam International Tournament 2015, even as he has played in several domestic tournaments.
Garg confirmed to HT that despite repeated requests by the Pune Badminton Association, the BAI had denied his request.
When contacted, Kalsi maintained that, he recommended the SSP and the referee to play for India as there was no other entries for the tournament. "Even both spent the expenditure of their own," he said.
Meanwhile, many senior badminton players have demanded stern action against the PBA general secretary and IBA for this out of the way "favouritism".
International player, Jawala Gutta, when contacted said, "Whatever has happened in this selection is a very small thing. When you play badminton, you realize that how much nepotism and favouritsm in involved in this game. All this is not good for the game and dishonor the country at international matches as well. Its good thing that this has come out in the media. Guilty officials must get lesson now."
Sachin Ratti, a former national champion in a statement said that the whole incident is very shameful. "It has brought disgrace to the game & the country. Officials involved in this act should be sacked so that such incidents don't happen in future.
President, PBA and senior IAS, S Venugopal Rao, said that he has asked Kalsi to come out with all records about recommending the names. "We are examining the matter and necessary action would be ensured if needed," he said.
Meanwhile, the police has not initiated any action against the SSP who snatched the right of any deserving player by using his clout.