Eye on career, Haryana wrestlers no longer flexing muscles in polls
Thanks to the Haryana government’s job oriented sports policy and the strict vigil of the Election Commission of India (EC), the use of wrestlers by political parties for muscle power has declined considerably.punjab Updated: Mar 27, 2014 08:38 IST
Thanks to the Haryana government’s job oriented sports policy and the strict vigil of the Election Commission of India (EC), the use of wrestlers by political parties for muscle power has declined considerably.
Haryana wrestlers won as many as 14 medals in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, while Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, who have their roots in the state, clinched a silver medal and a bronze, respectively, in the 2012 London Olympics.
State wrestling association secretary RK Hooda said: “Under the sports policy, which includes the ‘ Padak layo, pad payo’ (win medals, get jobs) scheme, four wrestlers with outstanding performances were recruited as deputy superintendents of police, nine as inspectors, 10 as sub-inspectors and 18 as constables in the police department under the sports quota.”
According to district sports officer Ishwar Dahiya, with the sports policy in place, the focus of wrestlers in akharas has shifted from seeking petty gains from politicians to working hard for excelling at national and international levels.
Dahiya, a former wrestler who has experience of running akharas, said: “Earlier, political parties used to lure some wrestlers by offering them money and food to use their muscle power for intimidating rivals.” He said such a scenario was no longer in vogue as the promise of employment for achievers had made them career-conscious.
Sonepat wrestler Anil Dhankhar, who was recruited as a sub-inspector under the sports policy, said the job scheme had boosted the morale of grapplers, who earlier got involved in shady activities for earning their livelihood.
Former director general of police (DGP) Mahender Singh Malik said medals bagged by sportspersons in the state had created an atmosphere of positivity, adding that no unscrupulous involvement of wrestlers during campaigning for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections had been noticed so far.
Moreover, the EC had announced to deploy 60 companies of paramilitary forces in the state to ensure free and fair elections this time, which further ruled out such activities, he added.
Sunil Dalal from Charra village of Jhajjar district, which is known as a village of akharas, said wrestlers were no longer in demand as political parties relied more on gun power.
Upset at Rohtak police chief Rajesh Duggal’s statement about zeroing in on wrestlers who create nuisance during campaigning, a delegation of local wrestlers confronted him over portraying them in a bad light. Joginder Pehalwan from Karontha village said wrestlers did not indulge in such activities. Rather, they were the ones who had won laurels for Haryana in the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.
Sangram Singh, winner of the world’s best professional wrestler award in 2012, hails from Madina village in Rohtak district. He was approached by the Election Commission to promote voting in the Jat rural heartland.
Sangram, who has also appeared in several reality TV shows, said serious wrestlers mostly came from a modest background, adding that their focus was on excelling in the sport.