Ten years after the TV show Mahabharat wrapped up, fencing was introduced in a few schools in Uttar Pradesh in 2000. Hoshiyar Singh and his siblings Munesh Kumar, Suman Singh and Bhagyashree Singh enlisted in their school at Mathura, enamoured by the “talwaarbaazi” they watched every Sunday on the TV.
Hoshiyar showed early promise by winning a bronze at the National Under-17 championships in 2004 in Chennai, which had imported sophisticated scoring equipment and was the first thrust by the federation into raising standards in the sport. He specialised in the sabre event and picked up another medal at the School Games a year later.
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On Wednesday, the 27-year-old former cadet-level national medallist met with a tragic end when he was allegedly pushed off a Mathura-bound train by two constables of Government Railway Police (GRP) near Sikandrarao station in Hathras district.
The GRP has lodged an FIR against the constables.
The alleged incident took place when Hoshiyar was travelling with his mother, wife and their 10-month-old child in the Kasganj-Mathura passenger train. His family alleged that when Hoshiyar went to the women’s coach to meet his wife, GRP personnel stopped him and asked for Rs 200. When he refused, he was thrown off the train by the personnel, they alleged.
President of Fencing Association of India, Durga Das Boro, said the federation had written to the PM asking for a high-level enquiry into the incident. “We have requested the PM to look into this. We want the two constables named in the FIR to be punished. The mail has been copied to the sports minister and we expect a thorough probe into Hoshiyar’s death,” he said.
Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said, “A team of senior officials has been sent to the spot and investigation has been ordered. Once the report comes, further action will be taken.”
Singh’s elder brother Munesh, a constable with Delhi Police, said the train had stopped at Sikandrarao station when his brother went to the women’s compartment to meet his wife, who is three months pregnant. His wife, Jyoti, requested him to stay with her as she was not feeling well, he said. He said when the train moved, two constables arrived and questioned Hoshiyar’s presence in the women’s compartment. “They asked for a penalty of Rs 200. An argument ensued and the constables suddenly pushed my brother out of the compartment. He fell between the platform and the track and was run over,” alleged Munesh.
“After he fell, the train was stopped. My mother and Jyoti got down, screaming for help, following which several passengers gathered there. The GRP constables aimed their rifles at the passengers when they started protesting,” he added.
Hoshiyar had continued to train in the sport after shifting to Delhi in 2006-’07 and contested on behalf of UP. His family had encouraged all the children to stick to fencing, and both brothers competed at nationals. Hoshiyar’s sister Suman is a fencing coach in Agra, and Bhagyashree is training for a diploma from National Institute of Sports, Patiala.
Hoshiyar had been looking for a job as his playing career was drawing to a close. “We are shocked,” Boro said, adding that officials from the federation have left for Hoshiyar’s hometown to attend the funeral. “I will ensure that the guilty are punished.”
Meanwhile, Superintendent of Police (GRP) G N Khanna claimed the death was the result of an accident. “As per our investigation, Hoshiyar got down at Sikandrarao station to get drinking water. Before he could get water, the train started moving. He ran to catch the train and, while trying to get hold of the compartment’s door, his hands slipped and he fell between the platform and the tracks,” he said.
— With ENS Lucknow