Wrestling Federation of India secretary general, Raj Singh, doesn’t want to talk about his being chosen for the Dronacharya Award, which he will be presented at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday.
Instead of showing excitement, he refuses to divulge the details he had mentioned in his application for the national award for coaching excellence.
When asked when and how he trained London Olympics medalists, Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, he was curt, saying ‘call the pehalwans, they will tell you the truth’. Under the column for outstanding achievements in his application, he has mentioned that it was under his guidance that the Indian grapplers achieved success in the Beijing Games as well as in London.
In fact, Raj Singh is the fourth coach to mention Sushil’s name to influence the selection panel. On three previous occasions, Satpal Singh, Rampal Mann and Yashvir Singh had also claimed that they trained Sushil Kumar, who won the bronze medal in Beijing and the silver four years later.
At the London Games, Raj Singh had raised a controversy by accompanying Sushil and Dutt on the mat instead of the national coach, Yashvir Singh.
The key official of the federation had also raised a storm when he changed his personal details in the application for the award. The details in his passport are different.
Sudesh Kumar, a former international wrestler and Arjuna awardee, was among those who complained to the sports ministry that Raj Singh should not be considered for the award as he has misused government funds. Sudesh is surprised that no action was taken. “It only encourages people with not such a good track record to get the award,” he said.
Documents with HT show that for the past five-six years Raj Singh has been travelling abroad on government funds, on false documents. When asked, he dismissed it saying, ‘don’t ask pointless questions’. “You have written about me, why are you asking me the same questions again? The government has cleared my name for the award. It’s all over.”
Kartar Singh, former Asian Games champion, says if undeserving people get the award, it dilutes the whole concept of honouring those with an outstanding record. “It only shows there is scope for improvement in the scheme. Otherwise a day is not far off when every second person on the street would have the award.”