Once a kho-kho captain, now a labourer

Rajendra Kewat has been unemployed for over a decade despite having brought glory to his state.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2007 10:26 IST

He once captained the Bihar kho-kho team, but Rajendra Kewat today works as a daily wage labourer.

Kewat, who is in his 40s and is a graduate, has been unemployed for over a decade despite having brought glory to his state.

"I was forced to work as a labourer to earn a living for myself and my mother," said the former sportsman who lives in the Bind block of Nalanda district, about 100 km from Patna.

Kewat was selected to Bihar's junior kho-kho team in 1981. He represented Bihar for eight years and in 1987 he was declared the best player at the national kho-kho games.

He said time and again top people, from ministers to district officials, promised him a job but nothing happened.

"My mother had hoped that I would get a government job but that never happened. I have lost hope and have turned to working as a labourer like other members of my family," Kewat, who was captain of the Bihar team during 1985-87,said.

His elder brother works in Delhi like millions of migrant Bihari labourers.

Incidentally, Kewat belongs to a backward caste, is landless and poor but has so far been deprived of government benefits for people in this category.

Kewat said he was ready to train youngsters for kho kho and kabaddi if the state government appointed him as a trainer. "I will be happy to train boys and girls to make a name for Bihar and India," he said.

He trained as a coach in 1994 from the Patiala-based National Institute of Sports. "I am the only trained coach of kho-kho and kabaddi in Bihar," he claimed.

Kho kho is a traditional Indian sport in which players of one team take turns at catching a player of the other team. It is popular in rural areas where boys and girls play it in the village fields.

"I am planning to meet Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at his janta darbar in Patna this month or next month to request him to provide me a trainer's job," Rajendra said. He pointed out that Nalanda was Nitish Kumar's home district.

His is not an isolated case of official apathy to a former sportsman.

Former footballer Chandeshwar Prasad, who won the top Arjuna award for sportsmen way back in 1971, is suffering from a kidney problem but there is no one to help him.

Prasad, a former captain of the Indian football team, has been running from pillar to post to get his general provident fund (GPF) and gratuity, running into hundreds of thousands of rupees. But his dues have not been paid to him.

In the past year, the state government has spent huge amounts on gifting luxury vehicles to ministers and on the renovation of their bungalows. But no move has been initiated to take care of sportsman like Kewat and Prasad.

First Published: Feb 18, 2007 10:26 IST