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Sushil Kumar accused of murder — What happens to his Khel Ratna award?

Non-bailable warrants have been brought against two-time Olympic medal-winning wrestler Sushil Kumar. What happens to his awards if he is found guilty?

Sushil kumar wrestling lessons tihar jail

Sushil Kumar will be imparting wrestling lessons to fellow inmates at the Tihar jail


The Bridge Desk

Published: 17 May 2021 6:19 AM GMT

Two-time Olympic medal-winning wrestler Sushil Kumar has found himself embroiled in a major controversy. The wrestler and nine others' name has been involved in connection with the murder of a 23-year-old former junior national wrestling champion, Sagar Rana. A Delhi court on Saturday issued non-bailable warrants against Sushil and the others involved in the case following the issue of a look-out-circular (LoC) against the wrestler.

Sagar Rana, who had been training at the iconic Chhatrasal Stadium, died on May 5, while two of his friends got injured after they were allegedly assaulted by Sushil Kumar and some other wrestlers on May 4, at the Chhatrasal Stadium premises in Delhi.

Sushil Kumar has been on the run since Sagar's death. An FIR of murder, abduction and criminal conspiracy was registered against the senior wrestler.

On Monday, police issued a 'Look-out Circular' (LoC) against Sushil Kumar. Earlier, Delhi Police had returned empty-handed after raiding his house. It has emerged that Sushil went to Haridwar and then to Rishikesh while trying to escape an arrest. Efforts are on to trace him and raids are being conducted in the Delhi-NCR region and neighbouring states to nab him.

Victims in the case have alleged that Sushil Kumar was present at the spot when the incident took place. The victims, in their statements, have alleged that Sushil and his associates abducted Sagar from his house in Model Town to teach him a lesson for bad-mouthing him in front of other wrestlers, police said.

Will Sushil's Khel Ratna award be taken away?

The incident has come at a time when Indian wrestling is celebrating its highest number of quotas, eight, for the Tokyo Olympics, slated to get underway in July. There are reports that wrestlers are looking to leave the Chhatrasal Stadium after the incident allegedly involving one of the icons of Indian sport.

Wrestling Federation of India Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar had told the Press Trust of India that the image of Indian wrestling has taken a hit due to the incident but stressed that the governing body is not mulling to remove the star wrestler from the contracts list. Sushil was handed an A grade contract in December 2018 along with four others for annual financial support of Rs 30 lakh. However, he has not participated in any international event since his first-round defeat in the 2019 World Championship in Nur Sultan.

Sushil Kumar has undoubtedly been the biggest name of Indian wrestling whose achievements speak volumes for the country's milestone in the sports. Many wrestlers of this generation were inspired by him to take up the sport and bring laurels for India. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Sushil broke a 56-year-old medal drought for in India in wrestling after KD Jadhav had won a bronze in 1952. Since his bronze medal in 2008, India has won a medal in every Olympics along with silver by Sushil again in 2012 London. Because of his achievement, Sushil was bestowed with the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, India's highest honour for sportspersons in 2009.

However, with the newly established murder charges on Sushil, he might be stripped off the Khel Ratna by the President of India. The President of India may cancel and annul any national award honour if the recipient commits any acts of criminal misconduct or otherwise abuses the award. As there are no specific guidelines for otherwise withdrawing a national honour from a recipient, the acts of returning/renouncing an award to register a protest, or refusing an award after an official awards list has been published, are only symbolic actions.

Sushil has been hiding as vigilant of law. If he is found guilty the Khel Ratna award could just be stripped off. Sushil also received the Arjuna award in 2006 and a Padma Shri award in 2011 by the government of India. The Government of India may cancel or annul the Arjuna Award of any recipient for specific reasons including doping and, thereupon, the recipient shall be required to surrender the statuette and the certificate of the award but it shall be competent for the Government of India to restore the Award once the cancellation and annulment have been withdrawn. To honour a person with the Arjuna Ward, it has to be certified that the nominee is clear from vigilance/disciplinary angles and is not involved in acts of criminal and moral turpitude nature. So, in this case, Sushil's Arjuna award might also be taken away, along with his Padma Shri.

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