The violent protests by Jats in Haryana demanding job reservation singed the prominent national training centre of the Sports Authority of India in Sonepat.
A group of protesters scaled a boundary wall of the centre and set the pole-vault pit, made of inflammable foam, on fire. Security guards rushed to the spot and with the help of some campers managed to douse the fire, but by then the pit was completely damaged.
“Anticipating some trouble due to the Jat agitation, we had closed the main entrance on the very first day. But today, some miscreants managed to get in by scaling the side wall and set the polevault pit on fire. But the damage was restricted to that only,” said Radhika Sreeman, Executive Director at the centre.
Indian wrestlers, training for the Rio Olympics at the centre, had to go without milk and other daily dietary items for two days due to the violent agitation. The National Highway 1 runs close to the centre and it has been blocked at several places by the protesters. The situation was beginning to show some improvement by Monday evening.
Currently, the national wrestling and archery camps are talking place at the centre, which is about an hour’s drive from Delhi. Besides, STC (SAI training centre) trainees are also there.
“The blockage of the national highway because of the agitation and with the centre located next to the highway, no movement was possible. We have enough ration in stock, but the supply of milk and other dairy items was affected for two days,” said Sreeman. “But now the things have improved and today we got the supply of milk.”
The Indian wrestling contingent, which was returning to the centre after winning nine medals, including a gold and three silver, in the Asian Championships in Bangkok, also had to endure hardships while travelling from the Delhi Airport to Sonepat due to the highway blockage.