Hitting out at ‘step-motherly treatment’
Chennai: Irked by the “step-motherly treatment” meted out to the Indian hockey players by the central and four state governments, the team members have decided to go on a ‘hunger strike.’
Chief Coach of the National team Joaquim Carvalho was peeved that while his wards’ triumph in the Asia Cup was ignored, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and the state governments of Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Karnataka announced cash awards for the cricketers winning the Twenty20 World Cup.
“Why are our hockey players being treated like orphans and why are our politicians biased against hockey, the national game?” Carvalho asked.
Carvalho said, “we are ever grateful to the President of India for sending individual letters congratulating the hockey players for their Asia Cup win, without losing a match.”
He said a coach and four players had planned to go on hunger strike before the Karnataka Chief Minister’s house to protest the announcement of Rs 5 lakh cash award each for the members of the cricket team, while “treating the State hockey players like dust.”
Carvalho said “the Karnataka CM till date has not congratulated hockey players from the state for the Asia Cup win.”
“Coach Ramesh Parameswaran, manager R.K. Shetty and four players (Vikram Kanth, V.R. Raghunath, S.V. Sunil and Ignace Tirkey) are to go on hunger strike before the Chief Minister’s house,” he said.
“In fact, there is a competition going on between politicians and State governments in announcing cash prizes galore for cricketers,” Carvalho said.
But “when hockey is the national game and when we have won a big tournament like Asia Cup, why have these governments and politicians not recognised our triumph,” he asked.
Stating that he and the entire hockey team had congratulated Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his World Cup win, he said: “I am not against cricket or cricketers.”
“Every sportsperson needs to be recognised. The cricketers deserve the cash awards, no doubt, but should not hockey players be treated in the same manner?”
As for Punjab and Haryana Governments’ cash awards to cricketers, Carvalho wanted to know whether these states show same ‘gratitude’ to its hockey players — Sardar Singh, Baljit Singh, Gurbaj Singh, Shivendra Singh and Rajpal Singh.
On the Civil Aviation Minister’s decision to give cash awards and out-of-turn promotion to cricketers in Air India and Indian Airlines, Carvalho wondered whether the Minister knew that these organisations had hockey players on their pay rolls.
“Coach, M.P. Singh, Gurbaj Singh, Bimal Lakra, Adrian D’Souza, Dilip Tirkey and captain Prabodh Tirkey are all employees of Air India and Indian Airlines,” he said.
Criticising the Maharashtra Chief Minister who had announced Rs.10 lakh each for the cricketers, Carvalho said: “the Chief Minister is perhaps not aware that Adrian D’Souza, Gurbaj Singh, Shivendra Singh and Joaquim himself hail from the state and reside there.”
The National coach recalled that Olympian Mervin Fernandez and he were offered ‘flats’ by the Maharashtra government 18 years ago for their outstanding performances.
“Eighteen years have passed; we are yet to get our flats. We have the Maharashtra Government’s order in our names and we continue to wait hopefully,” he said.
No comments: Gill
The IHF refrained from making any comments on the affair. “No...no, how can I comment on an issue about which I am not sure,” IHF President K.P.S. Gill said over phone.
“I don’t go by media reports...I myself will find out what has happened and then comment on the matter. So what if somebody has reported the issue quoting the chief coach. I am not aware of it...let me find it out,” he said.