An 18-year-old taekwondo player was allegedly beaten and paraded in his underwear in front of a few hundred competitors during a national-level tournament in Nanded recently. Some state association officials attempted to hush the issue but a consolidated effort from the player's district association has led to an inquiry committee being constituted to probe the matter.
Pune’s Balaji Pawar was apparently “punished” by some officials for an altercation with a national-level coach from Sikkim on May 23. The shocked player went into hiding for a few days and mustered the courage to petition District Taekwondo Association president Rajendra Kadam after being prodded by coaches and well wishers, said a senior official of the state association who did not wished to be named.
Kadam then took the matter to state association president and joint commissioner of police (Crime Branch) Rakesh Maria, who ordered an inquiry in the matter under the chairmanship of association vice-president Bajirao Patil.
But when Hindustan Times contacted Maria on Friday, he said the matter was being handled by the committee from which he has resigned. “I have already resigned from the post due to infighting in the association,” he said.
At the centre of the storm is treasurer Vinayak Gaikwad, who is also the treasurer of the national association. In the letter written to his district association, Pawar claimed that Gaikwad thrashed him beforte ordering volunteers at the venue to strip him naked.
“He then made them tie my footwear around my neck and then some official held my hand and paraded me around the venue,” Pawar said in the letter, a copy of which is with HT.
Pawar admitted in the letter that an altercation happened between him and a few members of the Sikkim team over his ring, which had fallen near their leg. “There was a misunderstanding as none of us could understand each other's language. The Sikkim team members then began beating me and that’s when even my district teammates got involved,” he wrote.
“I later learnt that one of them was a coach and I apologised for my mistake. I thought the issue was over there but Gaikwad sir again called me to his room and then thrashed me before humiliating me in front of every one,” he added.
Rakesh Devkule, former national-level player and now coach, also confirmed to the district association that such an incident had happened and he was told to keep quiet or face dire consequences. Kadam, who is also part of the inquiry committee, said they were in the process of recording statements of everyone concerned and would be submitting their report in four to five days.