Wrestling star Sushil Kumar on the run after school children ‘ill-treated’ in Australia

Sushil Kumar, the president of the School Games Federation of India (SGFI), remained untraceable after Indian students participating in the Pacific School Games in Adelaide were reportedly deprived of food and transportation.

other sports Updated: Dec 09, 2017 12:55 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sushil Kumar,Wrestling,Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore
Close on the heels of star boxer MC Mary Kom’s resignation, double Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar had also quit his role as a National Sports Observer for wrestling.(AFP )

Double Olympic Games medallist Sushil Kumar, the president of the School Games Federation of India, and his father-in-law Satpal Singh, an Asian Games gold-medallist in wrestling, the chief patron of SGFI, are in the news for the wrong reasons

It has been three days since videos of the 100-odd Indian students, several of them girls in their early teens, were reportedly ill-treated and deprived of food and transportation during the Pacific School Games in Adelaide started circulating, but the wrestling legends are yet to act. All attempts to contact them have went in vain. Sushil Kumar resigned as a government observer earlier this week for conflict of interest.

(Read | After MC Mary Kom, wrestler Sushil Kumar resigns as National Sports Observer)

Members of the under-16 girls’ hockey team, mostly from Delhi, were the first to allege ill-treatment during the event, which concludes on Saturday. The team alleged that it was deprived of adequate money to purchase food and hire local transport because of which it even missed two matches.

Despite Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore ordering an inquiry, SGFI working president Narendra Sopal denied any wrongdoing. “The athletes are being looked after well and there were no issues of lack of funds for food and transport,” said Sopal to Hindustan Times.

An internal inquiry has been ordered but an officialof the SGFI secretariat, Kanhiya Gurjar, refused details.

The SGFI had charged R2.5 lakh per student from the state government vide their order dated August 17, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times. The sports ministry was also informed about it. With a lot of states, including Maharashtra, refusing to pay up, a majority of the competitors were from Delhi.

Since it was an invitational event, the SGFI had asked its state-affiliated units, in this case state education departments, to fund respective students from their states. Sources say the overall expenditure for the seven-day event, jointly organised by School Sports Australia and Australian government, was far less compared to the fee charged.

Gurjar, however, refused to share the breakup. “I have no idea about the financial aspect of the tour…it’s an exposure tour and worth the money,” he said.

The SGFI fielded teams in six disciplines, including football, hockey and softball for Under-16 boys and girls. Among the eight participating teams in hockey, India were the only foreign team.

In U-16 girls’ softball event, besides India, the Philippines were the only other competing nation. In the boys’ group, India and Australian school teams battled for supremacy.

A total of 90 students and an unknown number of officials were part of the contingent. Dharemder Singh, an official in the sports wing of the Delhi Education department, said he was clueless why so many students were cleared for a regional-level tournament.

“My job is to only give administrative clearance, which I did,” he said, adding, that deputy director, Education department, Asha Aggarwal, would have more details. Aggarwal too didn’t respond to phone calls and SMSs.

Last November, the Indian team for the World School Games in Trabzon, Turkey, was denied a daily allowance of $25 and sports kit. The sports ministry had then sanctioned R1.30 crore for the 100-member contingent.

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 08:20 IST