Strike in Manipur to protest exclusion of Monika from Olympic squad

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Imphal, Aug 18 (UNI) The Co-ordinating Committee Against Monika's Withdrawal from Beijing Olympics, 2008, today called a 24-hour general strike in Manipur from 0500 hours tomorrow, even as Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs Dr M S Gill instituted an inquiry to look into the issue immediately and submit a report to the government at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Laishram Monika, who was dropped from the Olympics weightlifting squad on a controversial dope report, arrived here yesterday.

''Sports should be free from politics. The years of hard work put in by a deserving sportsperson can be rendered futile by dirty politics,'' Ms Monika said.

The Co-ordinating Committee had, on August 11, demanded a public apology from the Centre, which was, however, not met. Therefore, it decided to go ahead with the strike tomorrow.

Manipur Olympic Association president E Binoykumar said, ''It is the dream of every sportsperson to participate in the Olympics.

Hence the players should not be discouraged by wrong policies and dirty politics.'' Earlier, Dr Gill had a detailed discussion about Ms Monika's dope test issue and also met the weightlifter.

Questions had arisen about her dope test and the timings of release of the reports, which led to Ms Monika not being sent to the Beijing Olympics by the Indian Olympic Association.

Subsequently, the Weightlifting Federation of India submitted a report suggesting that she should be cleared for going to the Beijing Olympics.

Unfortunately, it was not possible for the Indian Olympic Association to get her into the competition because of the time limit.

''I have discussed all aspects of this unfortunate incident and decided to appoint an immediate inquiry under T S Krishnamurthy, Retired Chief Election Commissioner of India, to go into all aspects of this matter immediately so as to bring out the precise truth. I have requested him to come to Delhi at the earliest to hold this inquiry and to favour me with his report and recommendations at the earliest,'' the Union Minister said.

''As Sports Minister, while I am determined to set up an independent technically proficient dope testing mechanism which has credibility in the world and towards which end, I have taken certain steps already. I am also equally anxious that no sportsperson should suffer due to any laxity or delay on the part of this testing mechanism,'' he added.

''While ensuring prompt and firm action in Monika Devi's case, I am determined to ensure that such incidents do not happen in future.

I want to assure all sportspersons that they will get full consideration and fair treatment from me at all times,'' Dr Gill further stated.

UNI NS DPM AB 1141

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