Kids love athletes because they follow their dreams. This is a famous dialogue from George Clooney’s movie ‘Up in the Air.’ Hardly anyone can disagree with that. Sports has the power to inspire people and also teach important lessons in life. People often use sports as a metaphor for life. And due to their hard work, sheer talent and inspirational stories, sportspersons often become idols for millions of people across the world. However, not everyone manages to live up to the expectations. Some fall from grace after being involved in unsportsmanlike acts or even criminal activities in some instances and throw away their entire lives’ reputation. The latest to join this list is India’s two-time Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar.
Kumar, India’s most decorated wrestler, was arrested on Sunday morning over alleged involvement in the murder of a fellow wrestler Sagar Rana in Delhi. He was absconding for nearly 20 days.
The Delhi Police had announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for information leading to Sushil Kumar’s arrest. A reward of Rs 50,000 has also been announced for the arrest of his associate Ajay Kumar.
They had also filed an FIR in the case under sections 302 (murder), 308 (culpable homicide), 365 (kidnapping), 325 (causing grievous hurt), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 506 (criminal intimidation among others.
Here’s a list of Indian sportspersons who have had run-ins with the Law:
S Sreesanth – Indian Cricketer
In 2013, he was arrested by the Delhi Police for spot-fixing in 2013. He confessed to spot-fixing during his five-day judicial custody. Two years later, the MCOCA court in Delhi’s Patiala House dropped charges against him. In 2018, BCCI turned down Sreesanth’s plea to relax the ban and allow him to play county cricket in England. Two years later, life ban for alleged spot-fixing in IPL games was reduced to seven years. After serving out the ban, he returned to competitive cricket early this year representing Kerala in a Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy game against Puducherry in Mumbai.
Navjot Singh Sidhu – Indian Cricketer
He was arrested by the police in 1991 for assaulting Gurnam Singh and in 2006 following a road rage incident. The incident dates to December 27, 1988 when Sidhu and his cousin had beaten up Gurnam Singh and two others in what was described as a road rage case. Gurnam Singh later died. On April 12, 2018 the Punjab government supported the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court convicting the minister. It told the apex court that the 65-year-old victim had died after a fist blow from the cricketer-turned-politician. The Supreme Court in 2018 acquitted former cricketer and Punjab Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu from culpable homicide charges in a 30-year-old road rage case for which he was awarded a three-year jail term. A bench of Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul acquitted Sidhu of culpable homicide not amounting to murder charges but convicted him for causing simple injury and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 without any jail term.
Iqbal Singh Boparai – Shot-putter
He was charged with the double murder of his own mother and wife in the United States. Singh, 62, from Delaware County in Pennsylvania called police on Sunday morning to admit his crime, The Philadelphia Inquirer quoted officials as saying. When police arrived at Singh’s home in Newtown Township, they found Singh covered in blood, suffering from self-inflicted stab wounds. Inside were the bodies of the two women, the report said. The former shot-putter won a bronze medal at the 1983 Asian Athletics Championship, which was held in Kuwait. This remained the biggest achievement of his sporting career before he moved to the US. He was working as a taxicab driver, US media reports said. Singh was taken to an area hospital for the treatment of self-inflicted injuries, where he remains in police custody, NBC News reported.
Tanveer Hussain – snowshoe competitior
The Indian athlete was indicted in the US in 2017 on charges of sexually abusing a minor girl, days after he arrived from Kashmir for a snowshoe competition. Tanveer Hussain was indicted by an Essex County grand jury for allegedly having inappropriate contact with a 12-year-old Saranac Lake girl earlier that year.
Hussain had been arrested in March on charges of sexually abusing the minor girl, two days after he competed in the World Snowshoe Championships at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center. “Hussain is alleged to have subjected a 12-year-old female to sexual contact and engaged in inappropriate conversations with said child during the time he was in Saranac Lake,” the report quoted Sprague as saying. The minor girl had told police that on the night of February, two days after the snowshoe race, Tanveer Hussain had kissed her twice and had groped her.
Tanveer Hussain had garnered much attention before arriving in the US for the snowshoe championship after the US Embassy in New Delhi had denied him and another athlete visas around the same time President Donald Trump had issued an order barring travel into the US from seven Muslim-dominant countries.
Even though India was not among the seven countries, the denial of visa to Tanveer Hussain and the other athlete was seen as associated with the executive order.
Deepak Pahal – Boxer
In 2016, Pahal helped a gangster escape from police custody while being taken to a Haryana court and was arrested by Delhi Police’s Crime Branch. Currently, The boxer-turned gangster, holds a Rs 2 lakh reward for his role in four murders, extortion. Pahal, who had competed in the 60kg lightweight division, had won he won the gold medal in the national junior boxing event in 2011 in Pune and in 2012 represented India in the Haydev Aliyev Cup Boxing tournament in Uzbekistan. In December 2012, the Indian Boxing Federation was banned by the international body for rigging elections. The ban meant an end to all international tournaments and this affected Pahal the most. Any medal acquired in the national events would have helped boxers to get government jobs in the sports quota.
Pahal’s life never became the same again and he was expelled from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel in Sonepat after a case was filed against him for reportedly breaking the jaw of another boxer in a brawl.
Jai Bhagwan – Boxer
Two-time Asian Championships medallist and Arjuna awardee Jai Bhagwan, who was an Inspector with Haryana police, was suspended for assaulting a hotel manager. in 2015, Bhagwan was also suspensed following allegations that he had accepted a bribe of Rs.1 lakh. Bhagwan, who was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 2014, is working with Haryana Police as an inspector and posted in Hisar district. Bhagwan is alleged to have received the bribe amount from three gamblers who were arrested in August in Haryana’s Hisar district, a police official said. One of the arrested gamblers, a businessman, had approached police with a complaint against Jai Bhagwan.
He alleged that Bhagwan was demanding Rs.10,000 more through constable Anil Kumar even after the earlier payment of Rs.1 lakh was made to him as bribe to release the gamblers. Jai Bhagwan has represented India in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and other international events. He won a bronze medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games.