Hockey India (HI) on Wednesday, blasted the Kapil Dev-led Arjuna Awards selection committee after none of the seven players it had recommended were chosen for the prestigious award. (Also read: Cricketer R Ashwin in list of sportspersons to be honoured with Arjuna Award)
The seven players were Joydeep Kaur and Ritu Rani from the women's team and Dharamvir Singh, V.R. Raghunath, Tushar Khandker, Bharat Chetri and Shivendra Singh from men's hockey. (Related: Dhoni recommended for Padma Bhushan, Virat Kohli fpr Padma Shri)
HI secretary general Narinder Batra wondered how out of 15 Arjuna Awardees, five hailed from just one state, Kerala.
"Out of 15 Arjuna Award winners five are from one state only. Is it a co-incidence or a professionally managed coup by the SAI and the sports ministry. I will not name the athletes since they should be respected for what they have been rewarded with," said Batra.
Batra also questioned the conflict of interest in the committee, especially commentator Anupam Ghulati, who is a former employee of HI.
"Is it known to the committee Anupam Ghulati who was member of this committee was an ex-employee of Hockey India and was asked to leave Hockey India in a bad taste? Did he recuse himself when hockey was discussed," said Batra.
The HI secretary general said it was Ghulati who told the committee that hockey should not considered since there were no results in the last four years.
Batra also revealed that Ghulati was forced to resign by HI after he had shortlisted 30 probables for the 2012 London Olympics on his own and forwarded it to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) with consulting the selection committee.
Batra said the seven hockey players have been cheated by the sports ministry and the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
"Since the government of India has cheated the seven players of their rightful place in getting at least one award, we Hockey India will give them Rs.2 lakh each," he said.