The national Kabaddi Federation on Wednesday washed its hands of the incident where the players at a state-level tournament were served food from a toilet, saying it was not, in any way, involved in the staging of the girls’ event in UP’s Saharanpur.
The kabaddi players competing at the U-16 event were served food that was kept in a toilet, prompting the authorities to suspend the district sports officer for laxity and blacklisting the caterer. The incident created a furore as politicians condemned the shabby treatment meted out to the players.
“The Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) has no role in the organisation of the tournament. It was purely an Uttar Pradesh government-related event. They (organisers) have done their arrangement,” S P Garg, the Delhi High Court-appointed administrator who has been running AKFI since 2018, told PTI.
Asked how a state-level tournament can happen without sanction from the national federation, he said, “We are in no way involved in the organisation of the tournament. Humara koi lene dena nahin hey (we have no concern with that). We had no information (about the tournament).”
UP State Kabaddi Association secretary Rajesh Kumar Singh said the tournament was not sanctioned by the AKFI nor by the state unit. He said the event was not on its annual calendar. “The tournament was organised by the state government’s sports department. Our role was to provide only technical support. We sent some officials to conduct the event and the selection committee, nothing else,” Singh said.
“We have our state-level events like open championships. This event (U-16 girls tournament in Saharanpur) was not in our annual calendar of events.” He said the state government is taking strict action and an inquiry committee will take feedback from players from each of the 16 divisions (mandals) that took part in the tournament. A purported video of the incident that surfaced on social media showed cooked food was stored in the toilet at Saharanpur’s Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Stadium from where kabaddi players took it themselves.
The state-level sub-junior girls’ kabaddi tournament was held from September 16 to 18 in which over 300 players competed. The incident drew criticism, with ruling BJP’s Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi asking if Indian sports should be cleansed of politicians and their representatives.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also took a swipe, asking how Indian sportspersons would win gold at the Olympics if they are treated this way. While the RLD termed it as a “gross insult” to the players, Congress accused the ruling BJP of spending crores of rupees on false publicity. Additional Chief Secretary (Sports) Navneet Sehgal had told PTI that Saharanpur District Sports Officer Animesh Saxena was suspended on Monday.