Years After String of Feats, Wrestler Family Fights For Their Due
Aamir Khan-starrer “Dangal” trailer is out now and, as expected, Indians are going gaga over the biopic of a wrestler family from Haryana. And why shouldn’t we? After all, we ought to know the path-breaking story of some wrestler girls in a state where it is normal to marry off a girl even before she can complete her education and where career-oriented girls, especially sportswomen, are frowned upon.
The extraordinary story of former wrestler, Mahavir Singh Phogat, his daughters – Geeta, Babita, Sangeeta, Ritu, Priyanka – and niece Vinesh has brought in revolution in the wrestling fraternity (a male-dominated sport before Phogat’s daughters’ entry) of India.
Despite the fame and glory, the Phogat family has not got the Rs 40 lakh which the Haryana government had promised them four years ago.
Huge cash rewards, luxury cars, smartphones, land for sports academies, mats for training have been announced in the names of these sisters whenever they have gone on to win medals in Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and other national and international championships.
The Phogat family is disheartened, and they have all right to be. Six years after Geeta Phogat won a gold medal at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, it was only this week that the wrestler received her appointment letter as Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) in Haryana Police. Reportedly, the Haryana Cabinet has now approved Phogat’s appointment to the post.
“Hamein aadat ho gayi thi wait karne ki. Sab khush hain par jitni khushi honi chahiye thi, utni nahin hai (We have got used to waiting. Everyone is happy but we are not as happy as we should have been.) While other players were appointed (as DSP) on winning gold in the same event, we were denied this for six long years,” Phogat told The Indian Express.
Geeta Phogat first shot to limelight when she won gold medal at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and then became the first Indian woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympics in 2012. She also won a bronze medal at the world championships (2012). Following her footsteps, Babita and Vinesh also made it big at international events, winning medals at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. Ritu and Sangita have also made impressive strides at the junior level.
Evidently, their achievements are laudable, but not worthy of being rewarded!
Both Babita and Vinesh are the winners of Arjuna Award in 2015 and 2016 respectively, but are still waiting to receive the cash rewards of Rs 5 lakh that every Arjuna Awardee gets by the state government. Babita was even ignored wherever she sought to know about the reward money. She was told that she can only claim rewards after 2012 since the previous government did not update the present government on the matter.
“It seems as if it’s my fault that the change in power within the government took place,” a disappointed Babita, who lost in the elimination round in the 53-kg category at Rio de Janeiro, said, as reported by Sportskeeda.
Even Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Anil Vij had announced cash rewards in the names of Haryana’s achiever sportspersons, but sadly those remained words only.
Last month, peeved about the negligence of the state, Mahavir Phogat, who received the Dronacharya Award, took a stand and wrote a three-page long letter to the District Sports Officer. It goes like:
“They have not received the cash awards for many national and international medals during the years 2012 to 2015. We had earlier submitted their application forms to your office and even approached your head office in Panchkula many times. But till date, the girls have not got any cash rewards.”
The Phogat family is trying their bit to get back what they deserve and every week the district sports office failed their expectations.
This is not a new issue in the country, as even Olympic bronze-medalist Sakshi Malik’s coach Kuldeep Malik yet not received a promised cash rewards worth Rs 10 lakh by the Haryana government.
“We put our blood and sweat in making the country proud at international platforms, but the government completely forgets when it comes to rewarding us,” Babita added.
Feature Image Credit: StarsUnfolded
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