Hockey India (HI) and Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) have openly criticised the Arjuna Award selection committee for ignoring players of their respective sports.
This year no hockey or cue sport player features in the list of 15 sportpersons recommended by the Arjuna selection panel headed by cricket legend Kapil Dev.
While HI nominated Joydeep Kaur and Ritu Rani from the women’s national team, Dharamvir Singh, VR Raghunath, Tushar Khandekar, Bharat Chetri and Shivendra Singh’s name were listed from the men’s team.
The BSFI had nominated world ladies billiards champion Chitra Magimairaj, bronze medallist in the world ladies snooker championship Vidya Pillai and gold medallist in the Asian Team Championship (2013-Doha) Brijesh Damani.
HI secretary general Narinder Batra is miffed at the snub given to hockey players for the prestigious award.
“We Hockey India have nothing against the medal winners and wish them well but certainly are upset and dissatisfied with the way the committee under the chairmanship of Mr Kapil Dev handled the selection of award winners,” Batra said in a statement.
“Till now I used to support Government when it used to say that the federation are not managing themselves properly, but today I can say everybody is dishonest. And they have no business to give lectures to NSF’s and IOA,” he added.
In what HI thinks will seem to be a fitting reply to the snub, the federation has decided to reward its nominees with cash prizes.
“We will (HI) give Rs 2 lakh each as award to the 5 men and 2 women athletes and this award will be given at a function where the press and media will also be invited.
This is being done to make sure that hockey athletes do not feel disheartened due to this match-fixing done by Ministry of Sports and SAI,” said Batra.
BSFI too are unhappy with the selection panel and the Sports Ministry and are unable to fathom the fact that not a single cue sport player has featured in the 15 sports persons selected for this year’s Arjuna Award.
“With regard to the recently announced Arjuna Awards we would like to state that cue sports players have been overlooked and for that reason we are unable to fathom.
Their performances are surely far above many of those who got the award and it was shocking that out of the three that we nominated not even one was shortlisted,” said a disappointed BSFI secretary S Balasubramaniam.
“After putting in so much effort and giving their best and winning medals on the Asian and International forums any sportsperson will feel let down by the indifferent attitude of the awards committee. What should one do to get this award if winning medals is not the criteria?” he asked.
It is important to note that last year World Billiards Champion (2007-Point Format) Rupesh Shah got the Arjuna when cue sport legend Michael Ferreira, first cue sport player to be awarded Padma Bhushan, headed the selection committee.
While the 12-member selection committee decided not to give the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award this year it listed 15 sportspersons for the Arjuna honour.
The 15 sportspersons recommended for the Arjuna Award were Ravichandran Ashwin (cricket), Akhilesh Varma (archery), Tintu Luka (athletics), H N Girisha (paralympics), V Diju (badminton), Geetu Ann Jose (basketball), Jai Bhagwan (boxing), Anirban Lahiri (golf), Mamta Pujari (kabaddi), Saji Thomas (rowing), Heena Sidhu (shooting), Anaka Alankamony (squash), Tom Joseph (volleyball), Renubala Chanu (weightlifting) and Sunil Rana (wrestling).