Former India hockey goalkeeper Baljit Singh, whose career came to a sudden halt after a critical eye injury during a training camp in Pune in 2009, has blamed government apathy for his growing misery.
The 30-year-old lad from Hoshiarpur, Punjab lamented the state government's indifference towards him and said he was made to run from pillar to post to push through his case.
"My only submission was to help me in my treatment and provide me a respectable job under the sports quota," said Baljit, who made 175 appearances for the country since his debut in 2000.
Baljit revealed a senior government official visited him on behalf of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in July 2009 to check on his injury and assured him all sort of help.
"I was assured that help of any sort in terms of treatment or government job would be extended to me," Baljit claimed.
"I was operated upon at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and later on I even went to the US after the Union Sports Ministry agreed to bear the cost of my treatment. But mid-way through my treatment, I was called back and asked to take treatment in India and no help was later extended by the government," he added.
The aggrieved player pointed that in October last year he met Badal, who is also the State's Sports Minister, and apprised him about his condition.
"As advised, I met the then DGP. My file was sent to State's Home Secretary. In between, I was called to appear for an interview for a job in the police force and my physical tests were also conducted," he revealed.
"However, as I got no response for six months, I again met the Deputy Chief Minister and he told me to meet the Principal Secretary, Vishwajeet Khanna.
"I met him but I was told to meet Home Secretary again and he in turn directed me to meet Director Sports, Pargat Singh," Baljit added.
The player was, however, told by Pargat Singh to meet the meet the Home Secretary. And recently I was informed by his office that my file has been rejected by the Home Department.
Baljit, who is a sole earning member in his family, said he is feeling helpless and dejected.
"I feel dejected. I sustained the injury while playing for my nation, I sacrificed my eye in the playing field, I sacrificed my future and my health and now I am told that there is no vacant seat in sports quota," Baljit lamented.
The goalkeeper also insisted that the state government recently created vacancies to induct five-to-six players from Punjab as class I officers in various departments.
"I am happy that they were honoured, but pained at being left out," said an emotional Baljit.
A Punjab government official denied the allegations and stressed that all appointments under the sports quota are made as per the rules.