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Storm in the cup before IHF AGM (1/31/2005)
--K. Arumugam
``Yes, we are in the red,'' agreed supercop Mr. KPS Gill, the president of the Indian Hockey Confederation. The former Punjab police chief was grilled by the electronic and print media, which he addressed after the presentation ceremony of the Premier Hockey League TIER II, in Hyderabad on Sunday, Jan 30, 2005. IHF, as it is popularly known, is in a deep financial crisis and needs at least Rs.200,000,00 to come out clean. ``Imprudent financial management,’’ a member roared during the EC meeting that preceded the AGM. `` Reportedly one member from the South and one member from the North thoroughly grilled the office-bearers about the alleged financial irregularities which are continuing for the last five to seven years. From a deficit of Rs.50 lakhs, the pending payments rose to a monstrous.2 crores, according to a member who wanted to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. ``Doordarshan has to pay us,’’ once we get all the money we will clear the loans, Gill, answered without convincing anyone.

However, the AGM ended peacefully for the IHF office-bearers who were seen smiling toward the end of the day after two days of hectic long-faced lobbying. ``The AGM was a success,’’ claimed a member from the ruling side as they felt that the dissent was successfully snubbed. ``They effectively made Mr.Batra shut his mouth,’’ he claimed. But the fact is the internal bickering had a positive sign when Gill announced that two committees were formed to look into these matters. Mr Jesudanam, president of the Andhra Hockey Association, will head the panel to oversee the preparations and conduct of the Senior Nationals which will be held in clusters at different zones before the finals at Delhi from March 20 to 27. The other three-member committee would look into the financial aspects and submit a report within 30 days.

Mr Gill was bombarded with questions by the media, which he termed as ignorant and the major cause for the decline of the hockey in the country. The media bashing by Gill took a back seat as the press conference turned into a humourous event by a couple of journalists who responded with jokes to Mr Gill's statements and the president to became jovial before revealing the present financial state of the federation.

The alarming disclosure came after a Hindi journalist asked him about the outbursts by a vice-president who demanded transparency from the IHF and alleged that several financial irregularities were ruining the game in the country. Gill refuted the allegations and said that `transparency' was a `cliched word’ created by the media. What do you mean by transparency, he questioned. And played down the inner bickering. ``Ours is a democratic set-up. In a family, dissent is common thing. All the accounts were passed by the AGM,'' he said. But when a couple of scribes persisted, he stated that the federation is ``in the red''. To what tune, came another query like a quick short-corner bullet. But Gill is not the one to reveal too much. He evaded with élan like a sound goalie’s save and said he has to look into the figures.

But sources confirmed that IHF owes about Rs.1.92 crore to different people and agencies. Some of the pending payments were 7-years old. It was also alleged that IHF spent about Rs.60 lakhs on IHF Juniors, who took part in various tournaments. ``An amount of Rs.5 lakhs or so was written off, and that too came up in the meeting,’’ the source revealed. In the end it was a victory of sorts for the dissenters too who managed to create awareness that all is not well with the financial situation of the federation. Mr Batra, however, was miffed by the treatment he got and the way his rivals pounced on him and silenced him. ``I will take legal action. After going to Delhi, I will file a case,’’ he roared.

The three-member committee will submit its report within 30 days while the panel headed by Jesudanam will work on the format and the conduct of the senior nationals. It was also decided that the Federation would bear all the costs of the participating teams both food, board and travel after some members objected the IHF suggestion that the teams should bear their own costs. a s2h special

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