Bathinda : International archery player Sukhbir Singh argues with Punjab cabinet minister Sikander Singh Maulka during the National Sports Day celebrations at the Government Rajindra College, Bathinda, on Saturday.
On the National Sports Day, Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Sikandar Singh Maluka faced an awkward situation, when an international archery player denied accepting the cash award from him with an allegation that the goodwill gesture was just a political gimmick with an eye on the coming elections only.
Maluka, who is also the Punjab Kabaddi Association president, was here to honour 233 players hailing from four districts selected for the cash award under the new sports policy of Punjab government.The players were from athletics, archery, basketball, fencing, boxing, gymnastics, football, handball, judo, hockey, kabaddi, rowing, shooting, Taekwondo, weight lifting, wrestling and volleyball.
On his turn, Sukhbir Singh of village Kothe Chet Singh Wale in Bathinda district denied accepting the award on the face of the minister. In the presence of all political leaders, bureaucrats and even media persons, the international archery player accused the sports department and the state government of being unfair towards the contribution of the sportsmen of the state.
“I played at international level. I achieved various positions on different occasions. And now after 10 years of my struggle, you are offering me this cash award of Rs 12,000 which is just a mockery of hard work and sentiments of state youths,” rued Sukhbir Singh. Speaking further, he said, “We want job not this meager ‘consolation’ prize, which you have opted for practising in the wake of coming elections.”
Maluka and the sports department officials attempted to pacify the aggressive youth with an assurance to listen to him after the occasion but he kept on lashing out at all of them. Speaking to media, the fuming sportsman said, “During my 10 years of struggle, I played at World University level in China in 2010, won gold in Senior National 2014, secured gold in inter-varsity from 2009 to 2014 but the government never bothered to ask about my condition. Distressed I stopped playing last year and started doing farm job in fields.”
Asked if he applied for the cash award, Sukhbir said, “This time I was not aware of the notification but in past I had applied on every occasion.” Down playing the issue raised by the sportsman, Maluka said, “Punjab government is committed to provide players with all kinds of facilities. The state government’s dream is that Punjab’s every player should reach at the zenith and bring laurels to the state.
Under the new Sports Policy of Punjab government state, national and international players are being honoured.” On the occasion of National Sports Day, 50 male players and 67 female players of Bathinda were honoured. Similarly, eight male players and 11 female players of Barnala were honoured and from district Mansa 15 male players and 22 female players were honoured. The players with achievements in year 2010-11 onwards were honored.
Players from Bathinda got cash prizes Rs 20.65 lakh, Barnala players got prizes worth Rs 2.77 lakh, Mansa players received cash prizes worth Rs 3.92 lakh and players from Sri Muktsar Sahib got different prizes in total worth Rs 13.16 lakh. Prominent among others present included MLA Darshan Singh Kotfatta, District Planning Committee Chairman Jagdeep Singh Nakai and District Sports Officer Saroj Bala Dhiman.