EVER SINCE she won the country’s first gold medal in women’s wrestling in 55-kg category in Commonwealth Games in Delhi six years ago, Haryana’s Geeta Phogat had been waiting for her appointment as Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP)in Haryana Police. Tuesday marked the end of that wait when the Haryana Cabinet approved Phogat’s appointment to the post.
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The long wait, however, seems to have taken a toll on the wrestler. “Hamein aadat ho gayi thi wait karne ki. Sab khush hain par jitni khushi honi chahiye thi, utni nahin hai (We 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.
Phogat, who was the first Indian woman wrestler to have qualified for London Olympics in 2012, was selected for appointment as Inspector in Haryana Police under sports quota that year. She moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court in March this year for promotion to a post on par with her achievements. The High Court directed the Haryana government to decide on her representation within two months.
The 27-year-old said it was about claiming what was rightfully hers. “A player puts all her efforts in winning medals and a decision like this means financial security for us. I wish such things do not happen to other gold medal winners in future CWG or Asian Games,” she said.
The Haryana government had taken a policy decision on March 5, 2005 to provide out-of-turn appointments to players with sports achievements. Hockey player Mamta Kharab became the first player to be appointed as DSP under this policy.
The last five years saw 2010 CWG medal winners Vikas Krishan, Paramjit Samota, Ramesh Kumar, Ravinder Sangwan being appointed as DSP.
“It was always on my mind that I had been denied the post that I deserved according to the state policy. I kept approaching the state government. Earlier this year, I decided to approach the High Court and sought directions to the state government,” said Phogat.
Meanwhile, the Haryana Cabinet also cleared Tohana mountaineer Ram Lal Sharma’s appointment as sub-inspector.
Sharma, 26, who used to sell vegetables at his father’s vegetable cart, climbed Mt. Everest in 2013. He was among the 15 mountaineers from the state to have achieved the feat after Mamta Sodha, who was appointed DSP in 2010, the same year she climbed Everest.
“It was a tough wait for me. My father runs a vegetable cart and suffers from back problems. I had to run the cart to support the family. Mamata Sodha was offered the appointment in 2010 for the same achievement as mine. I approached the High Court in February this year. Earlier this May, the court directed the Haryana government to appoint me as DSP and also give a cash reward of Rs 21 lakh in three months . I am happy that I have been at least given a post of sub-inspector,” said Sharma.
It has also been a wait for appointment as DSP for players like 2010 CWG gold medal winner Manoj Kumar of Rajound in Kaithal district and other mountaineers, including Panipat’s Vikas Kaushik, who along with wife Sushma Kaushik, became the youngest couple in the world to scale the summit, Kanta, Anita, Narinder and Kapil.
All these five mountaineers were appointed as sub-inspectors in 2013 but they refused to join the post.
“It has been a long struggle. We had approached the previous chief ministers several times and even met Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar and Sports Minister Anil Vij. We had also filed an application under the CM’s window scheme last year but we are yet to get any reply in this regard. If that is how Haryana government treats a CWG gold medal winner, then what more can we say,” said Manoj Kumar, who won the gold medal in 64 Kg in 2010 CWG Delhi and also reached the quarter-finals in 2010 London Olympics.