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Pressure builds up on K P S Gill to resign
April 22, 2008 19:32 IST
Hockey czar K P S Gill, who is heading the Indian Hockey Federation since the last 15 years, is under pressure to resign following a television sting operation in which his close aide, K Jothikumaran, was shown accepting cash purportedly for inducting a player to the national team.
While the government came out openly with the suggestion that Gill should step down to restore faith in the hockey establishment, several Members of Parliament and hockey Olympians demanded his ouster.
Sports Minister M S Gill said the IHF president should "introspect and review" his position.
"Since yesterday, I have agonised long over the IHF. It's recent disaster in Chile [Olympic qualifier] is still fresh in every Indian mind. Now, trust and faith in fair selection is shaken. I believe, in the totality of the situation, the IHF president must also introspect and review his position," the minister said in a statement.
"In full consideration of the situation facing Indian hockey and the national need, I urge him to consider withdrawing from his current responsibility. It is time to let other Indians make an attempt to lift our hockey," he said.
The bribery scandal came up for discussion in Parliament also, with members demanding stern steps, including legislation, to bring sports bodies under the government's watchful eye to weed out corruption.
The sports minister was of the view that Jothikumaran should not be reinstated even if an enquiry finds him innocent.
"The incident seen on television last night, was most unfortunate for our hockey, and distressed every Indian. I indicated immediately the necessity for Jothikumaran to resign from his office as secretary-general of the IHF. He has done so," he said.
"I do not agree with the IHF president's formulation that his resignation is till the enquiry clearance. He has been secretary-general since 1994 and faith in him has now been shattered," he added.
In a sting operation, beamed on Monday night, Headlines Today claimed that after receiving a cash payment of Rs two lakh and taking a promise of another Rs three lakh, to be given to his man in Delhi, Jothikumaran assured the channel's team he would get a player picked to the senior hockey team for the Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Malaysia next month.
The television channel claimed that the bribe money was given to him in a five-star hotel in Delhi in two instalments on April 10 and 11.
Reacting to the development, the Indian Olympic Association convened an "emergency meeting" in Delhi to discuss the scandal.
"The Indian Olympic Association strongly condemns the alleged incident of Jothikumaran's issue in the Indian Hockey Federation. An emergency meeting of the Executive Committee of the IOA has been convened on Monday to look into this matter and take necessary action in the interest of sports," an IOA statement said.
Former players said they felt vindicated on their allegations of corruption in the IHF.
"For years, we have been speaking against (IHF president KPS) Gill and Jothikumaran. But Gill had described the former players as 'mourners'. With the episode involving Jothikumaran the whole IHF has been caught red-handed," Aslam Sher Khan said.
"Jothikumaran is not the only one to be blamed as the real culprit is Gill, who is exploiting the Indian hockey for many years now," he said.
"As top officials usually get away, the government should see that they do not escape without punishment for their misdeeds," he added.
Former player and coach Mir Ranjan Negi said many former hockey players had an inkling about such malpractices.
"We had to lose players like Len Aiyappa, Gagan Ajit Singh and Deepak Thakur because of the IHF administration," he alleged.
Another former Olympian Baljit Singh Dhillon said there had always been "an unnecessary interference" of officials in team selection and advocated a change of regime at the IHF.
"Gill and company have ruined Indian hockey in last 14 years. The lone ouster of Jothikumaran will not help but there has to be a complete change of regime, with a former player being handed over the reins," he said.