Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra was left fuming after yesterday’s unfortunate episode involving the national team’s withdrawal from, and moments later, reinstatement into the March 9-17 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia.
HI was forced to announce the team’s withdrawal from the tournament after the Sports Authority of India (SAI) informed them that the men’s team could play the tournament but at no cost to the government, which meant SAI would not pay for their airfare. Moments later however, the sports ministry overruled SAI’s decision and cleared the team’s trip but with a stern warning to HI not to overshoot its budget in the future.
Batra though, felt the entire issue had nothing to do budget. “We are being victimised by SAI for not withdrawing a police complaint against the security in-charge of the SAI-run Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi where the Hockey World League Round Two was conducted,” Batra told MiD DAY from Delhi yesterday.
Explaining what happened at the stadium a few days ago, Batra added: “The security guy (Sanhsar Pawar), who was in an inebriated state, abused HI officials after his demand for a bribe to permit heavy vehicles carrying equipment used during the HWL to leave the premises, was turned down. We immediately lodged a police complaint and he was arrested. Thereafter, we received a call from SAI asking us to take back our case, which we refused. A day later came the SAI letter claiming they won’t pay for the team’s tour.”
Meanwhile, SAI claimed that HI is making an issue out of nothing.
“At the start of the year, HI did not include this tournament in their schedule of events. Now suddenly they came up with it and since they have already overshot their original budget (Rs 5.94 crore) to Rs 11.72 crore, we obviously turned down the proposal.
However, after we learnt that HI had no funds to send the team, we consulted with the sports ministry, who also felt that the national team should not suffer and thereby decided to pay for the team’s travel,” SAI Director General Gopal Krishna told MiD DAY.
Krishna rubbished HI’s claims of victimisation. “That security guard belonged to a private security company and SAI has nothing to do with him,” said Krishna.
Batra meanwhile, was grateful to the sports ministry for their intervention in the matter. “Thanks to people like secretary Pradip Kumar Deb in the sports ministry, the national game has been saved from embarrassment,” said Batra.