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Is Hockey India really keen to reinstate Gurbaj Singh in the national senior team?

Gurbaj Singh
Gurbaj Singh’s career seems all but over

Indian hockey team has been showing ample signs of improvement over the last few years but the same cannot be said about the federation (Hockey India) that runs the sport in the country.

Of course, the federation is well within its rights to think that they haven’t put a foot wrong in running the affairs of the sport. Successfully staging the Hockey India League for four years amid all odds is definitely a huge achievement, but the issue of Gurbaj Singh is one that has let hockey fans down.

The biggest question that is being asked in hockey circles is why did Hockey India ‘promptly lift’ the nine-month ban on Gurbaj in a move seen like honouring the ruling of the Punjab & Haryana High Court, which termed the ban ‘illegal’ simply because the federation has no provision for such long bans – at most, a player could be banned for 2-3 games, not for a such lengthy period of nine months.

It was as if some curse had fallen on Gurbaj – the court proceedings took away two months of his nine-month ban, which meant he could not be part of the crucial HIL auctions. So when the ban was lifted, Gurbaj’s name was missing among all the reserve players’ list for 2016 HIL as if to pour more insult on him. Clearly, like the Punjab & Haryana High Court stated ‘somebody in the system is against Gurbaj’ it does look somebody in HI is settling scores with the Punjab Police DSP.

What’s more, Hockey India picked him in the second-string national side for the 2016 SAF Games as if to indicate that he is only good enough to be part of the national ‘A’ side and not the senior team.

One thought that the federation has moved on but once the HIL got over, it was clear that the federation was no way going to forgive him for moving the court.

One must laud the bravery of Gurbaj for taking the court route for justice but he has got little support from the players’ fraternity (both past and present). Barring Dhanraj Pillay and a few others, most of them have preferred to stay mum on the Gurbaj issue. One can’t find fault these guys for maintaining studied silence on the issue as they will have their reasons not to get dragged in the issue, which has generated a fair amount of controversy.

Hockey India has subtly indicated through their actions that no player should even think of doing something like Gurbaj has done (moving the court) or else will meet the same fate like the Punjab player. One thing is for sure – Gurbaj’s Olympic dreams are surely over – forget Olympics – there are question marks over the Punjab player wearing the national jersey ever again.

The heights of the raw deal meted out to Gurbaj was the federation inviting him to the recent Hockey India Awards Ceremony in Bengaluru – as if to say it holds nothing against him but the midfield rightfully took a stand to give the function a miss.

Indian hockey will not be poorer without Gurbaj Singh but yes, the treatment meted out to him will be one of the dark chapters of the sport in the country.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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