The kabaddi players attending the U-16 event were served food held in a lavatory, prompting authorities to suspend the district’s sports officer for laxity and blacklist the caterer.
The incident caused furor as politicians condemned the poor treatment meted out to the players.
#WATCH | #UttarPradesh: “A plate of rice on the toilet floor was served to kabaddi players in Saharanpur” https://t.co/S5VSIf569F
— TOI Lucknow News (@TOILucknow) 1663472739000
“The Indian Amateur Kabaddi Federation (AKFI) has no role in the organization of the tournament. It was purely an event related to the government of Uttar Pradesh. They (the organizers) have made their own arrangements,” SP Garg, the Delhi High Court-appointed administrator who has headed AKFI since 2018, told PTI.
Asked how a state-level tournament can go ahead without the permission of the national federation, he said: “We are not involved in any way in the organization of the tournament. Humara koi lene dena nahin hey (we have no concerns about that). We had no information (about the tournament).”
UP State Kabaddi Association secretary Rajesh Kumar Singh said the tournament was not sanctioned by AKFI or the state unit. He said the event was not in his annual calendar.
“The tournament was organized by the state government’s sports department. Our role was to provide technical support only. We sent officials to run the event and the selection committee, nothing else,” Singh said.
“We have our state level events like Open Championships. This event (U-16 Women’s Tournament in Saharanpur) was not in our annual calendar of events.”
He said the state government was taking strict action and a commission of inquiry would collect feedback from players from each of the 16 divisions (mandals) who took part in the tournament.
An alleged video of the incident that surfaced on social media showed cooked food being stored in the toilets at Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Stadium in Saharanpur, from where the kabaddi players took it themselves.
The state-level sub-junior girls’ kabaddi tournament was held from September 16-18 and was attended by over 300 players.
The incident drew criticism, with ruling BJP MP Pilibhit Varun Gandhi asking whether Indian sports should be cleansed of politicians and their representatives.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also took a swipe, asking how Indian sportsmen would win gold at the Olympics if they were treated this way.
While the RLD called it a “gross insult” to players, Congress accused the ruling BJP of spending millions of rupees on false advertising.
Additional Chief Secretary (Sports) Navneet Sehgal had told PTI that Saharanpur District Sports Officer Animesh Saxena was suspended on Monday.