The fiasco surrounding the circle style Kabaddi World Cup in Pakistan is threatening to blow up into a major political fight.
While Indian Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju had indicated that that his ministry would start an inquiry into the unauthorized participation of an Indian team at the tournament, political parties have now joined the fray.
Opposition Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) is now demanding an explanation from the ruling government. Apparently the leader of the group of players, who have made the trip to Pakistan, is closely aligned with the Punjab Chief Minister.
The controversy arose after it was revealed that the Indian team to the tournament was not authorized by either of the two national governing bodies for the sport in India.
The Indian Sports Ministry and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) have also stated that no official permission had been given to any team to participate in the event in Pakistan.
The PPCC is also irked by the fact Indian players were allowed to visit a country they deem to be hostile towards India.
Prior to this, cricket and tennis have declined to make the trip to Pakistan for their official tournaments.
It was also revealed that apart from an unauthorized team, dozens of other Indian players are also in Punjab playing under the colours of other participating countries.
The tournament is organised by the Pakistan Kabaddi Federation (PKF) and sanctioned by the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) but both organisations are now deflecting the blame with lame excuses.
PKF secretary Muhammad Sarwar, who is also the secretary of the Asian Kabaddi Federation (AKF), is now claiming that the decision to select the Indian team was not his responsibility.
This after it emerged that the PKF had send invitation letters to the Punjab Kabaddi Association (PKA), a state body in India as well as to individual players to participate at the tournament.
Sarwar conveniently did not address the issue of Indian players representing the other foreign participating countries.
The PKA had also washed their hands on the matter claiming that following the invitation they only facilitated the players’ participation in Pakistan as “individual unit” and not as an Indian team.
The national kabaddi body affiliated with the IKF – the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) – is currently under suspension and is being administered by a court appointed official, Justice (Retd) SP Garg. And Garg had confirmed that he did not receive any invitation to the event.
Sarwar feigning ignorance of the current situation of kabaddi organisation in India is surprising considering that he should be keeping track of this as the AKF secretary. Furthermore, the current AKF and IKF president is Janardhan Singh Gehlot. It was Gehlot’s decision to appoint his wife as the new president in his place that got the AKFI suspended in the first place.
On his part Gehlot claimed that the World Cup in Punjab was “an invalid tournament where players who are not recognised by the world body are participating”.
Like Sarwar, Gehlot is also caught in his own web of lies with the letter from him granting approval and sanction to the tournament in his capacity as the IKF president is also now available for all to see.
He had also claimed that the PKF had requested for approval to conduct the tournament and he merely gave approval to conduct the tournament.
Considering that Gehlot, is also a vice-president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), his lackadaisical attitude in the matter does not augur well for the sports.
That the senior officials from the IKF and the AKF expect even the common man to believe their excuses is ridiculously lame.
While the political pressure is mounting on the Indian government to act on the issue, the fake Indian team are still playing at the “illegal” World Cup, picking up a win over German and Sierra Leone in their opening match. There is no confirmation as to whether all the German and Sierra Leone players are from the country or Indian citizens.
The fiasco is also seeing legal action being mounted on both sides of the border.
Muhammad Sarwar Butt Secretary General Pak Amateur Circle Kabaddi Federation has blamed the Pakistan gov for importing as many as 60 Kabaddi players from India to adjust them in the fake kabaddi teams of the countries which has not even send their teams.2/3 #KabaddiWorldCup pic.twitter.com/xMFSSoj38M— Ravinder Singh Robin ਰਵਿੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ راویندرسنگھ روبن (@rsrobin1) February 9, 2020
The Pakistan Amateur Circle Kabaddi Federation (PACKF), who are not part of the ongoing tournament, have filed a writ petition against the organisers and the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) in the Lahore High Court for the alleged scam.
The High Court has started its inquiry into the matter and has directed the PSB president to furnish all records by March 12.
Two Indian officials have also filed a writ of petition in the Delhi High Court to demand the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to open an inquiry into the scandal.