Discharged from their service in the Punjab Police after a Punjab and Haryana high court ruling in 2012, around 30 young sportsmen are struggling to make both ends meet. Participants and winners at various national and international meets, these sportsmen were recruited as constables in the Punjab Police under the sports quota in 2008.
As per government norms, they were given relaxation in age, qualification and height. The whole process was supervised by a five-member selection board constituted by the government. After being recruited through the order (number 2133-34/E-1) issued by the then director general of police (DGP), they not only completed their basic training but also brought laurels to the department and the state by winning national and international tournaments.
In 2010, Gurvir Singh, a candidate who could not be selected under the sports quota, filed a plea in the high court, questioning the selection of his cousin Parminder Singh. The plea termed the relaxation given to his cousin “illegitimate”. Accepting the plea, the court asked the police department to file a reply.
“The court had demanded a reply only in the case of Parminder Singh, but the department, unnecessarily, submitted a reply covering all candidates who were selected. Resultantly, the court cancelled the entire recruitment process and ordered to discharge all selected candidates from their duties in 2012,” said Amandeep Singh, a hockey player, who is among the affected sportspersons.
“Although the department filed a review petition before a double bench of the high court, it seemed to be a mere formality and the arguments failed to satisfy the court . Neither were we told about this plea nor were we considered to be a party. The department fought the case with grave insincerity, resultantly ruining our future,” he said.
A resident of Sarhali Kalan village in Tarn Taran district, Amandeep lost his father when he was just a year-anda-half old. He has been a part of the silver-winning team at the All India Police Games and the gold at the Federation Cup besides being awarded the best goalkeeper award in the same tournament and being qualified for the National Games. Now, he is running his household by farming on a small patch of land.
“We were discharged from the service irrespective of the fact that we were selected on merit prepared as per norms by the committee led by inspector general of police Gurdev Singh Sahota, and we did not commit a single irregularity. The department should tell us what was our offence? Is this the prize conferred on us for our contribution to the country?” questioned a disheartened Amandeep Singh
Mahavir Singh, a volleyball player from Ajnala, is also struggling to make both ends meet. “We also have the face the ignominy of being dismissed from service due to corruption. People have wrong perception about us,” said the player, who team secured the gold medal at the All India Police Games and qualified for the National Games.
Mahavir Singh left his job with the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) to join the police for better prospects. There are other sportsmen, too, who quit their government jobs to join the force in 2008. “We have met top cops and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal a number of times, but the issue remains unresolved.” he said.
There are some players, such as Jagdeep Singh (basketball) and Maninder Singh (athletics), who have gone on to bag laurels at international level after being discharged from their service. On the other end of the spectrum are athlete Parveen Kumar, who allegedly committed suicide after going in depression, and some sportspersons who are working as labourers to run the household.