KPS Gill under pressure to quit as IHF chief

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New Delhi, Apr 22 (UNI) Perhaps for the first time in his 15-year long regime as the Chief of Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), KPS Gill today faced the heat as he came under tremendous pressure to resign.

In the eye of storm, after his federation's secretary general K Jothikumaran, was caught on the camera taking bribe, the former Super Cop however tried to put up a brave face and was quoted by a channel saying he would not quit.

An angry sports Minister M S Gill asked KPS Gill to quit and let other Indians make an attempt to lift our hockey.

On the otherhand, agitated members in both the Houses of Parliament demanded that the government should enact legislation to bring the sports bodies under its preview to stamp out corruption.

Meanwhile, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) also strongly condemend the incident and has convened an emergency meeting of the Executive Committee on Monday to look ''into this matter and take necessary action in the interest of sports.'' In a strongly worded statement sports minister M S Gill said ''In full consideration of the situation facing Indian Hockey, and the national need, I urge him (KPS Gill), to consider withdrawing from his current responsibility. It is time to let other Indians make an attempt to lift our hockey.'' Describing what was shown in the sting operation last night as ''most unfortunate for our hockey,'' the minister said, ''it had distressed every Indian.'' He also added, ''I indicated immediately the necessity for Mr Jothikumaran to resign from his office as Secretary General of the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and he has done so.'' The minister strongly refuted the IHF chief's contention that Mr Jothikumaran's resignation is till the enquiry clearance.

''Jothikumaran has been Secretary General since 1994 and faith in him has now been shattered,'' he said.

He also referred to the debacle of Indian hockey team in Chile and its failure to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

''I have agonized long over the IHF. Its recent disaster in Chile is still fresh in every Indian's mind. Now, trust and faith in fair selection is shaken,'' he said, adding ''the IHF President, in view of the totality of the situation, must also introspect and review his position.'' Raising the issue in the Lok Sabha, V K Malhotra, who himself is a senior official in the Indian Olympic Association(IOA) said, ''the issue should not end with Jothikumaran's resignation, but criminal proceedings should also be launched against him for bringing disrepute to the Nation.'' He was of the view that IOA and the Government should discuss the matter to find out ways and means to prevent such situation arising again.

Several members wanted a legislation, to ensure that government could oversee the functioning of the bodies so that the players get a fair deal.

In the Rajya Sabha, Samajwadi Party member Shahid Siddiqui demanded resignation of IHF chief KPS Gill and also disbanding of the federation.

Samajwadi Party's Mohan Singh regretted that hockey has been reduced to ''a joke'', despite being the national game.

''When we asked how we failed, Government told us that the Federation is autonomous and independent. Has the autonomy been given to do wrong things?'' he wanted to know.

UNI HSB RKM AS1956

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