Irked by the unfair treatment meted out to the Indian hockey players by the central and four state governments, the team members have decided to go on a hunger strike.
Chief coach of the national team Joaquim Carvalho was peeved that while title victory of his wards in the Asia Cup was ignored, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and the state governments of Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Karnataka announced cash rewards for the cricketers for winning the Twenty20 World Cup.
"Why are hockey players being treated like orphans and why are the politicians biased against hockey, the national game?" Carvalho asked.
Carvalho said, "We are grateful to the President for sending individual letters congratulating the hockey players for their Asia Cup win, without losing a match."
He said a coach and four players had planned to go on hunger strike before the Karnataka chief minister's house to protest announcement of Rs five lakh cash reward each for the members of the cricket team, while "treating the state hockey players like dust".
Carvalho said, "The Karnataka CM till date has not congratulated hockey players from the state for the Asia Cup win."
"Coach Ramesh Parameswaran, manager RK Shetty and four players (Vikram Kanth, VR Rahunath, SV Sunil and Ignace Tirkey) are to go on hunger strike before the chief minister's house," he said.
Carvalho said, "When KPS Gill announced Rs 1000 as bonus for every goal that was scored, many people in authority, including a few politicians made a hue and cry and ridiculed the (Indian Hockey) Federation".
"In fact there is a competition going on between politicians and state governments in announcing cash prizes galore for cricketers," Carvalho said.
Stating that he and the entire hockey team had congratulated Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his World Cup win, he said, "I am not against cricket or cricket players. Every sportsperson needs to be recognised. The cricket players deserve cash rewards, no doubt, but do not the hockey players deserve to be treated in the same manner?"
As for Punjab and Haryana governments' cash rewards to cricketers, Carvalho wanted to know whether these states show same 'gratitude' to its hockey players - Sardar Singh, Baljit Singh, Gurbaj Singh, Shivendra Singh and Rajpal Singh.
On the civil aviation minister's decision to give cash rewards and out-of-turn promotion to cricketers in Air India and Indian Airlines, Carvalho wondered whether the minister knew that these organisations has hockey players in their pay rolls too!