Devesh Mahajan, 10, a class 5 student from Sunderbani town on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, has been selected for World Karate Federation Cup being held at Umag in Croatia from July 1-8, but he is not sure of his participation in the event as his parents do not have enough money to pay for his travel expenses.
The Karate Association of India, according to Devesh’s father Vishev Kumar, 40, a small time kiryana merchant, has estimated the travel expenses to be around Rs 2 lakh. Since the participation in the event is not “merit based’’, the KAI has asked parents to fund his journey on their own, said Ambedkar Gupta, general secretary of the Jammu and Kashmir State Karate Association.
As the boy is the only sportsperson selected from the state in the under-12 category, Rajouri Deputy Commissioner Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary has decided to release Rs 1 lakh on behalf of the district administration to partly fund his journey abroad. For another Rs one lakh, Shahid said that he has written to the Jammu and Kashmir State Sports Council which is headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti as its president.
To be doubly sure that the boy from a border township in Jammu and Kashmir does not lose the rare opportunity to represent his country and the state at the world level, he has also issued an appeal on Twitter seeking public funding. “Devesh Mahajan from LoC town Sunderbani will represent India inKarate championship at Croatia from 1 to 8 July 2018. You can support him,’’ he wrote on Twitter.
This followed when Devesh along with his father and coach Charan Singh Salathia called on Rajouri Deputy Commissioner on Sunday after they got letter of selection for the World Federation Cup from KAI. “During interaction, I came to know that boy’s father was a small shopkeeper and had little funds to arrange for his travel abroad,’’ he said, adding that he decided to help him as it will encourage other sportspersons in the border Rajouri district.
Sunderbani is a border town situated nearly 5 kms from LoC, with various infiltration routes of militants from Pakistan occupied Kashmir passing through areas on its outskirts. In March last, state police had in a fierce encounter killed four heavily armed terrorists on the outskirts of Sunderbani town.
Devesh, a class 5 student of B P World School at Sunderbani, has represented the state in Karate national championships thrice. Apart from this, he is the recipient of silver medal in national kick boxing championship held in Chattisgarh and gold medal in All India Shito Ryu Seiko Kai Karate Championship held in the memory of Maharaja Hari Singh at M A Stadium in Jammu last year.
The boy along with his parents and some prominent people of the town also called on local Bharatiya Janata Party MLA and party’s new state president Ravinder Raina for help at Sunderbani Dak Bunglow on Tuesday. However, he out rightly expressed his helplessness in the matter asking them to tell him whether they want any transformer installed or their lane repaired, Devesh’s father said, adding they left telling the MLA that “the boy only needed his blessing’’.
However, they still hope to get the requisite financial help from state government especially Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti as according to them she has helped promising sportspersons in the past like Tajamul Islam, who is among top kick boxing players in the world. The boy started practicing karate, kick boxing and wushu since he was five in the cemented compound of a private local school under the guidance of coach Salathia.
Despite no facilities for practice, he appeared dedicated towards the game, coach said. Even his parents were cooperative and they never pressured the boy to bring medals even when he returned from Delhi empty handed on two or three occasions.
Ravinder Raina, when contacted, said that they wanted him to release money from his Constituency Development Fund which is meant only for development of the constituency. “However, before I could enquire from my staff as to how I can help them, they left saying that they had only come to seek my blessings which I gave,’’ he added.
While his father said that he is yet to think as to what his son should be except that he excels in any field of his choice and brings laurels for the state and the country, the boy said that he will join police force after the completion of his studies.
Soon after the information about Devesh’s selection for World Karate Federation Cup came on May 25, coach bought a mat for his practice from Delhi. For this, the money was pooled by him, boy’s parents and some local people, said his uncle Atul Gupta.