Violence: IHF eyes wide shut

Despite the general outcry by the public and media alike on the shocking violence between the Namdhari XI and IOC in the Nehru hockey at Shivaji Stadium on Friday, the perpetrators of the incident may not be in any great trouble.

india Updated: Jan 02, 2006 02:34 IST

Despite the general outcry by the public and media alike on the shocking violence between the Namdhari XI and IOC in the Nehru hockey at Shivaji Stadium on Friday, the perpetrators of the incident may not be in any great trouble.

Even as the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) waits for an official report from the Tournament Director (TD) and IHF observer on the incident, the history of such happenings in domestic hockey in the country leaves little hope for any serious action - or even preventive action for the future - against the offenders.

In last year's final of the same tournament at the same venue, BSF and Punjab Police had clashed and were let off with a warning. In February this year, Kanwalpreet Singh hit Deepak Thakur on the face and the latter was forced out of action on both the domestic and international front.

Both players have been team-mates since their junior World Cup days and Kanwal was slapped a two-year ban, revoked after two months. The reason? He had apologised, said IHF president KPS Gill.

Back then IHF observer Charanjit Singh had recommended a two-year ban. This time around, the same person is the TD and reluctant to reveal his suggestions to the IHF on the incident. But there are enough reasons to believe things won't really be much different this year.

In March, skipper Gagan Ajit Singh and a couple of other players roughed up Bikramjit Singh in the National Championships and were handed a three-month ban -- they were soon back in action.

With such minor "punishments", it is no wonder that there hasn't been any let-up in violent incidents. With the IHF trying to hide behind the garb of "tournament rules" and avoiding any pro-active action - despite the fact that this time around, the entire shameful episode was caught live by several television cameras and telecast repeatedly - it has been left to individual organising committees to handle the issue.

Punjab Police have been banned from the Ranjit Singh tournament in February while the Namdharis have been barred from the ongoing Surjit hockey in Jalandhar. But that may not be enough. Ask poor Deepak, who somehow seems to get the stick every time -- literally! Last time he was struck when he tried to reason against dangerous play. This time, the rival coach bit him as he tried to calm tensions.

What is more surprising is the lack of any strict measures despite the same teams being involved in most of the cases. It must be sheer coincidence that both Punjab Police and Namdhari XI are based in Punjab. One wonders why teams like BPCL, Indian Airlines, Air India and Army rarely figure in such incidents.

In fact, players have begun to accept such incidents as commonplace. After the Nehru hockey ended, many of them were seen discussing what could happen at the Surjit hockey, so resigned are they to the situation.

Indian hockey may be struggling internationally but it continues to thrive at home. How else do you explain over 6,000 people turning out for a domestic final? Compare this to the numbers that turn up at Ranji Trophy matches and you get a fair idea. For the sake of Indian hockey, one only hopes that this resignation doesn't last.

First Published: Jan 02, 2006 02:34 IST