New Delhi:Indian hockey on Monday plunged into a fresh controversy with its Secretary General K Jothikumaran resigning hours after a sting operation by a television news channel showed him accepting bribe for the inclusion of a player in the senior team.
Soon after 'Headlines Today' beamed the sting operation Jothikumaran called up IHF President K P S Gill and informed him that he had resigned from the post which he had occupied for close to 15 years.
The channel said in a release that its Special Investigation Team found that the selection process in hockey was not "always fair, the current administration is highly corrupt and that IHF President Gill is oblivious of the corrupt practices of his colleagues."
The channel claimed that after receiving a cash payment of Rs two lakhs and taking a promise of another Rs three lakhs to be given to his man in Delhi, Jothikumaran assured the channel's team of getting a player picked up for the senior hockey team for the Azlan Shah hockey tournament next month.
It claimed that the bribe money was given to him in a five star hotel in Delhi in two instalments on April 10 and 11.
Jothikumaran, who could not be immediately contacted after the news broke out, later denied that he had resorted to any corrupt deals and said he had accpeted the money under the impression that it was for a proposal for conducting a big tournament.
"I was genuinely under the impression that a proposal for conducting a big tournament on the lines of Azlan Shah tournament was being debated with me by the reporters of 'AAJ Tak' and 'Headlines today'. At no point of time did I raise anything about selection," Jothikumaran told PTI.
"The money they allege that I had taken was in my opinion to meet the initial expenses for organising the event in India on the same lines of Azlan shah tournament," said Jothikumaran.
Gill reacted sharply to the issue, saying Jothikumaran was in no way involved in the selection process and it was surprising that he promised a place in the national team for the particular player.
"It is shameful and I have no words to condemn such an act," he said.
"Jothikumaran talked to me over phone and informed me that he has resigned from the post of IHF and will not be associated with the Federation until his name is cleared from the alleged incident," Gill later added.
Gill said the team for the Azlan Shah was scheduled to be selected tomorrow and Jothikumaran's claim that he could include the player was wrong.
New Sports Minister M S Gill was also quick to react.
"I have just seen the video being shown on Aaj Tak television channel about Jothikumaran, secretary of IHF. While a detailed inquiry must be held in the shortest possible time by appropriate authority, I am of the firm view that Jothikumaran must immediately resign from his office," he said.
The channel also showed transcripts of a telephone conversation where Jothikumaran is heard assuring the party that he would try to get the player included in the senior team for the Azlan Shah.
Jothikumaran told the party to keep the matter confidential till the formal announcement is made on the team.
Former Olympians Pargat Singh and Dhanraj Pillay were furious and Pillay in fact went on to claim that Jothikumaran had pushed Adam Sinclair in the 2004 Athens Olympic team using his clout.
"I can tell you that this boy did not know how to hit the ball but Jothikumaran got him in and the then coach Gerard Rach tutored him thrice a day to teach him the basics," he said.