While the ‘unofficial’ Indian kabaddi team has reached the semi-finals of the World Kabaddi Championship (Circle Style) in Lahore, controversy continues to brew with unanswered questions over team’s participation in a tournament in Pakistan against the stand of Indian Government.
Indian authorities have denied giving clearance to the 60-odd contingent for playing the tournament in Lahore. The Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India too had kept itself out of the issue, saying that it had neither selected nor sent the team to Pakistan. The Indian Olympic Association has distanced itself from the entire issue. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has disowned the team saying that the players and the coaching staff are in Pakistan without any official permission or clearance.
Though the contingent primarily contains players from Punjab, the State kabaddi body too had reportedly denied any connection with the tournament or the players representing India.
While a clarification came that players have travelled to Pakistan in individual capacity, the bigger question remains who could be behind mobilising the channels to ensure an Indian representation in a tournament being hosted by Pakistan?
Did a sports administrator in India had a prior knowledge about Pakistan hosting the tournament that will also feature an Indian team?
YES. The tournament is sanctioned by an Indian sports administrator – former AKFI life president Janardan Singh Gehlot in his capacity as the International Kabaddi Federation president.
InsideSport.co is in possession of a letter signed by Gehlot and sent to the Pakistan Kabaddi Federation Secretary-General Muhammad Sarwar Rana. The letter, dated October 26, 2019, describes the terms of the teams’ participation, prize money and appearance fee. “With reference to your letter…. Dated October 24, regarding terms & conditions for conduction the World Kabaddi Championships (Circle Style) 2020, i.e., World Cup at Lahore Pakistan… The said terms and conditions is approved is approved by International Kabaddi Federation (Sic),” states the letter.
Wasn’t the IKF president and a veteran kabaddi administrator, who was forced out of the office as the AKFI life president after the court intervention, aware of Indian team’s participation in the championship in Pakistan? Wasn’t he aware of the Government of India stand on sending a sports team to play with or in Pakistan? Did he apprise the authorities about the likelihood of an Indian kabaddi team playing in Pakistan?
Trying to find answers, InsideSport called at the IKF office in Ajmer at the phone numbers mentioned on its letterhead. There was no response. We had also sent a message to the Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Dhruv Batra. He did not respond. The IOA secretary Rajiv Mehta declined to comment, saying “speak to the president, only he can answer these questions”.
According to the Quint, Gehlot has stated that the “unofficial tournament is not recognised by the apex body”.
Can the IKF president answer if the tournament is not recognised by the body headed by him, what made him communicate with hosts Pakistan Kabaddi Federation and approve the term and conditions of the tournament. The letter in possession of insidesport.co is signed by none other than Gehlot himself.