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The Mighty Fall: The arrest of Sushil Kumar, the ugly underbelly of the Chhatrasal Stadium bloodbath wrestling uncovered

It began with a struggle over property. It ended with the beating of a former junior nationwide champion, Sagar Dhankar. And a former world champion, two-time Olympic medalist, Sushil Kumar, was arrested after absconding for almost three weeks.

Sushil, who introduced India to the world wrestling map on Sunday, hid his face behind a yellow-white towel as personnel from the Special Cell of the Delhi Police paraded him in entrance of the cameras. Next to him was his buddy and fellow wrestler Ajay Sherawat, who was sporting a black T-shirt with ‘Mercy for animals’ written on it.

The subsequent day of the incident, from May 5, the 2 have been crossing state boundaries. Both are named within the FIR and so they have been charged with homicide, kidnapping and prison conspiracy.

It is a dramatic fall from the grace of an athlete who has received medals in consecutive Olympics – an unprecedented achievement in a rustic that received a complete of two particular person medals within the final century. According to destiny, the alleged location for the lethal conflict that triggered this sequence of occasions was Sushil’s everlasting base for over twenty years and the nation’s most prolific wrestling meeting line – the Chhatrasal Stadium in New Delhi.

By the night time of the occasion, May 4, Sushil was requested to work arduous at his well-known alma mater for the ultimate push to make the lower for the Tokyo Olympics. Although he was ignored for the qualifier, he didn’t surrender. “I still have a lot of wrestling left in me. It (career) will not end like this, ”he stated dismissively. Now one wonders if his illustrious profession ends like this?

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Sources within the Delhi Police say that Sagar was held hostage and crushed up within the Chhatrasal basement. Hidden from the surface world, it’s a spacious however dimly lit house which is sufficient for about 50 vehicles. But it was by no means used as parking. Instead, this huge hall had a wrestling mat lined with vivid pink partitions. It has a brief health club, a small workplace and a prayer space. It is a uninvited place, guarded by stubborn-eyed overweight males, who stand subsequent to large steel doorways, guaranteeing the entry of solely a choose few.

Read | ‘They might have eliminated Sagar from Chhatrasal … contemplating his life unacceptable’

Sushil had been coaching right here for years however from 2019, apart from a number of weeks throughout final 12 months’s lockdown. He virtually lived in his soiled corridor, surrounded solely by his most trusted lieutenants, certainly one of them being Ajay, who was operating away with him. With his knees strapped and strapped to the wrists, Sushil – who will flip 38 this Wednesday – battling his physique with immense ache in a ultimate, determined try to make the Olympic workforce.

He may even discipline a coach from Dagestan within the South Russian area, who’s six years youthful than him, who has adopted wrestling to maintain the boys away from violence.

Avoid crime

Incidentally, tons of of youngsters crossing the iron gates of the North-West Delhi Stadium additionally adopted wrestling for a similar cause. “Growing up in these parts, you are never overcome by violence,” stated Pradeep, a wrestler who refers to himself solely by his first title. “My dad and mom have been afraid that I might develop into a thug. So he despatched me to Chhatrasal to be like a Sushil wrestler. Almost all of the individuals who wrestled in these components wished to be like Sushil.

He was 14 when he joined the sector of the Chhatrasal Stadium, which was began in 1988 by his former coach, now father-in-law Satpal Singh. Two Olympic medals, a bronze on the Beijing 2008 and silver on the London Games, and a World Championship title in 2010 introduced Sushil to a place that few Indian gamers take pleasure in.

Sushil Kumar received the silver medal on the 2012 London Olympics. (File picture)

Here and there, he was adorned. A Hanuman statue on the entrance of the wrestling corridor has two large portraits of Sushil. The younger wrestlers adopted a day by day ritual: first taking God’s blessing after which, touching the ft of their idol.

In his early days Sushil used to do a present each day for 200 wrestlers who got here from Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and in some instances distant villages of Jammu. He climbed the ropes, clutched within the mud, educated on the mat, and confirmed how arduous it takes to develop into an Olympic medalist.

The younger wrestlers wished to mix the legacy of Chhatrashal with the Guru-disciple custom on this sober surroundings. But the day after May 23, when Sushil hid behind a yellow-white towel, will the nation’s most well-known wrestling faculty be perpetually notorious?

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These hardened, war-hardened males, who’re taught to observe celibacy and self-restraint, have typically flirted with the legislation. Retired police officer Ashok Chand stated that he has policed ​​the world for many years, including that he has seen many cases the place wrestlers are ‘utilized by completely different sections of society, on account of their bodily expertise’.

“There are many active and former wrestlers who are recruited as Bahubali by politicians, recovery agents by banks and moneylenders, as bouncers in clubs and pubs. There are some who join criminal gangs and gangsters and join extortion and bullying businesses to pay security money. They also work for the toll plaza owners driving vehicles at booths along the border, ”says Chand.

This just isn’t a plain generalization. There are many examples that corroborate Chand’s declare:

– A couple of years in the past a sarpanch of a village in Haryana was shot and killed in a dispute over land.
– Naveen Dalal, who’s accused of firing two bullets on employee Omar Khalid exterior the Constitution Club in New Delhi, is a former wrestler from village Mandothi in Haryana.
– Another wrestler from Haryana, Rakesh Malik, was sentenced to jail on the cost of homicide, and was concerned in one other homicide try after his launch.
– Earlier this 12 months, a wrestling coach killed 5 gamers in chilly blood after being accused of misconduct by a feminine wrestler.

Double-edged sword

Vinod Tomar, assistant secretary of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), stated that Sushil’s actions have introduced the game into disrepute, which gained recognition after successful the nation’s medals within the final three Olympics.

But the WFI is headed by BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh from Kaiserganj in Uttar Pradesh. According to his 2014 election affidavit, he has been charged in various prison instances together with tried homicide and theft. Calls to Singh searching for remark remained unanswered.

Read | 6-time BJP MP from UP can be robust for India’s wrestlers!

Parents of younger wrestlers really feel that the sport is a double-edged sword: the attraction is that the sport can carry them luck and fame, but in addition the underlying worry that their little one can wander very simply.

For this cause, the daddy of wrestler Deepak Punia, who went to the Tokyo Olympics, traveled 50 km one-way from his village Chara to Chhatrasal each day. Subhash Punia made these lengthy journeys to get dwelling meals to his son. She additionally did this to make sure that it doesn’t go off-track.

Punia Sr. had earlier advised this newspaper: “Whatever I used to be doing, I gave up and targeted on giving him the highest quality meals and no matter he wished. Of course this helped his wrestling, but it surely was additionally a method to make sure that he didn’t get derailed. The technical bits have been taken care of by Virendra Koch (in Chhara) and Mahabali Satpal (in Chhatrasal). “

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Chhatrasal’s face was Sushil, so Satpal’s thoughts was behind him. East Asian Games gold medalist wrestler and Dronacharya Avardi has through the years put in a well-oiled scouting system, which now runs on autopilot. He has informally tied up with tons of of akharas throughout Haryana, which function a feeder membership to Chhatrasal. Once there the trainees reside within the rooms subsequent to the wrestling corridor and beneath the stadium stand, and all their fundamental wants are taken care of.

The military of coaches working beneath Satpal remodeled Chhatrasal right into a provider belt of expertise, which produced nationwide and worldwide champions. London Olympics bronze medalist Yogeshwar Dutt, Tokyo Olympic nominees Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya and Deepak are all Chhatrasal alumni.

Chhatrasal Stadium is ‘greater than only a wrestling middle’. (File picture)

The largest title of all of them, Sushil performed an administrative position on the stadium throughout his twilight years, however didn’t cease coaching. “There is a lot of discipline and hard work. But above all, there is fairness. This is why Chhatrasal is one of the best academies in India. Some wrestlers may feel insecure at the national camp but they feel safe in Chhatrasal, ”says a wrestling coach from Maharashtra.

Reputation tarnished

There could also be an odd case of indiscipline however there’s nothing as critical as this month’s incident, which has given rise to numerous questions and theories about what’s going on contained in the stadium.

Veteran crime reporter Inder Vasistha says, “It is not just the center of wrestling.” “In the mid-90s, the Delhi Police was on the lookout for a mafia in extortion instances. It was revealed that he was distributing prizes together with Satpal at Chhatrasal Stadium. Many criminals from the outer Delhi area have taken refuge contained in the stadium. Satpal and Sushil are sportsmen in addition to authorities officers. So their position ought to be investigated. “

Chhatrasal trainee Ravinder, who claims that he was with Sagar on that dreadful night time, says he’ll cease coaching there. “I can’t take coaching in Chhatrasal anymore. I’ll break all ties with Chhatrasal. The area is a non secular place for a wrestler. With the loss of life of Sagar, Chhatrasal just isn’t the identical holy place for me. There are different wrestlers who will go away, ”says Ravindra.

Says one other Chhatrasal wrestler, who has been disillusioned with latest occasions: “To develop into the most effective wrestler in Chhatrasal now we have to make numerous sacrifices. The competitors is hard. The rigor of coaching, self-discipline, dedication required is unimaginable for somebody who just isn’t a part of the sector. But you at all times thought that that is one thing pure and essential to hold the wrestling tradition alive. But after this incident one wonders what sort of tradition is being promoted within the area.

Retired cops chorus from taking the title of Chand Chhatrasal. But he believes that the akhadas are ‘liable for turning wrestlers into criminals’. “This is more or less true of the whole of northern India. The wrestlers who control the arena become powerful because they are attracted by politicians and criminal and dishonest elements of society, under their patronage, there are young wrestlers who can be used to achieve their objectives, ”Chand it is said. “But I might not wish to say something particularly about Chhatrasal or Susheel.”

But the clip launched by the Delhi Police – which confirmed Sushil hiding behind a towel – went viral, exposing the hitherto unseen ugly underbelly of wrestling and intensifying whispers concerning the area’s shadowy tradition.

With inputs from Nihal Koshi

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With inputs from TheIndianEXPRESS

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