Sexual harassment case against Sardar Singh was discussed before Khel Ratna recommendation
For the first time ever in the history of Indian sports, a para-athlete, Devendra Jhajharia, has been recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.The National Sports Awards committee, which met in the capital on Thursday, also added the name of former hockey captain Sardar Singh to the list of two athletes who will receive the Khel Ratna this year.Mariyappan Thangavelu, who won a gold at the Rio Paralympics, and Varun Bhati, the bronze medallist at the same event, were among the 17 athletes recommended for the Arjuna Award.The allegations of sexual harassment levelled against Sardar by a female English hockey player also cropped up during the meeting.Early last year, an international hockey player of Indian origin had filed a police complaint against Sardar alleging sexual harassment.The woman alleged that Sardar had got engaged to her in 2014 and later became pregnant. She said the hockey skipper forced her to go for abortion and after that he started avoiding her.”Jhajharia was the first choice for the Khel Ratna but Sardar’s credentials as a sportsperson couldn’t be ignored just on the basis of allegations which are yet to be proven,” said a committee member.As many as six sportspersons were nominated for the Khel Ratna this year. All the four medallists from Rio Paralympics were nominated for the highest sporting honour of the country but eventually, only Jhajharia, a double Paralympic gold medallist, made the cut.Deepa Malik, who was also in the running, was overlooked as the committee didn’t want to go beyond two names this year.advertisementThe deadline to submit the nominations for the Khel Ratna and Arjuna was April 30. Rohan Bopanna, who won the mixed doubles title at the French Open this year, made a late entry and Mithali Raj, who led the Indian women’s cricket team to the final of the World Cup last month, were being considered but eventually, it was decided to leave them out.