Olympians protest Batra`s nomination in Working Group

New Delhi: India`s Olympians have launched a strong protest against the inclusion of the Hockey India secretary general, Narinder Batra, in the 12-member Working Group that the Sports Ministry has constituted for re-drafting the National Sports Development Bill.

In order to bring about transparency and good governance in the National Sports Federations, the Sports Ministry last week had decided to establish a group under the chairmanship of Justice Mukul Mudgal to prepare a revised draft of the bill, which was initially drafted in 2011.

In a letter to the Sports Minister Jitendra Singh, as many as 22 Olympians expressed their concerns about the nomination of Batra in the committee.

"That the elections of the Hockey India itself under his (Batra`s) secretary ship was held on 5th August, 2010 in violation of the age and tenure clause of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports order dated 1st May, 2010 facilitating the election of 82 years old, Vidya Stokes as its first President, subsequent to which HI was de recognised on 5th August, 2010 remains de recognised till date," the Olympians wrote in the letter.

"Such an official does not deserve to be on this committee," the letter further stated.

The Olympians, including Padma Shri awardees Mohammad Shahid and V Bhaskaran, questioned Batra`s inclusion in the committee despite the fact that the affiliation of HI was under dispute at the Indian Olympic Association and FIH (International Hockey Federation).

"Even the Hon.Ble High Court of Delhi is seized of the matter and have ordered all concerned parties to maintain `status quo` on 18th Oct, 2012.

"Currently, both IHF (Indian Hockey Federation) and HI are affiliated to IOA - IHF by virtue of Delhi High Court Judgment dated 21st may, 2010, which quashed all orders of illegal suspension and disaffiliation and HI for unknown reasons though it stand de recognised by the MYAS," said the letter. Stating that Batra is the ‘root cause’ of the current hockey dispute in the country, the letter said, "That Mr Batra with the help of (Suresh) Kalmadi and (Lalit) Bhanot created parallel body –

Hockey India and further created parallel ad hoc bodies at State level ignoring the rightful claims of pre existing and erstwhile members of the IHF and IWHF.

"All this was done with the help of IOA while the IHF was under illegal suspension and contesting in court.

"The HI claimed itself as a private body in the High Court and Supreme Court to avoid govt guidelines and to vacate the Stay Order imposed by the High Court and had their elections after getting the orders from the Supreme Court declaring its status as that of a private body - it was the most unethical act since they enjoyed the immunity from the govt guidelines for being a private body," it added.

The letter also pointed out that the recent IOA elections had witnessed Batra`s open support to the candidates, who are facing criminal cases.

"Batra with such standard of ethics cannot sit on such a committee set up to make standard of ethics for NSF`s. How can the Ministry justify his nomination to such a committee," the Olympians asked.

They insisted for Batra`s name to be immediately replaced by some dignified sports personality to give a fair reflection of Ministry`s intention.

"We assure you of our complete support in all your future endeavours and are confident that you will take positive step to strengthen the Committee and future of Indian Sports," the letter concluded.

Besides Batra, the working group includes Rahul Mehra, Vidhuspat Singhania, Abhinav Bindra, Boria Mazumdar, B V P Rao, Sayan Chatterjee, Viren Rasquinha, Joint Secretary (Sports), MYAS, Director (Sports), MYAS and Mitali.