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Feb 26, 2012

Indo-Pak wrestling match hostage to riot fears

Times of India

INDORE: The ghost of a communal riot that broke out 40 years ago, has got the much-hyped Indo-Pak wrestling extravaganza to be held in Indore to be axed.

While the district administration is shying away from spelling out why it was cancelled, sources close to the development say the administration was apprehensive of a repeat of the riots.

Kripa Shankar Patel, a veteran wrestler and an Arjuna awardee recalled that some forty years ago, at a bout for Hind Kesri title in Delhi, Indorean Chandagiram, defeated Punjab's Meherdin, leading to a celebratory procession being taken out in honour of Chandagiram. This triggered off the communal riots, and after that, there has been no bouts involving wrestlers of the two communities, or cross border ones involving Indian and Pakistani wrestlers.

Wrestling aficionados, however, are disappointed. The cancelled event was to have well known Pakistani wrestlers Imran Ali (bornze medal winner at the Common Wealth Games), Usman Majid Pehelwan,( gold medallist of South Asian Games), Basharat Ali ( silver medallist of South Asian Games) and Shahid Usman( Silver Medal winner of South Asian Championship).

But this was not the first time that Pakistani performers are being discouraged from coming to the city. A month back, two of Pakistan's best known stand-up comedians were not allowed to perform in Mhow cantonment, since the army had an afterthought about Pakistanis being let into a sensitive area. "I definitely see politics behind the cancellation of the event, the administration had granted permission for the show a fortnight ago, before it did a volte face three days ago--it's strange," said Patel, adding that there are also people who are happy that the programme has been cancelled..Balram Yadav, a wrestler with the western railways, said that he was practicing for the last six months to take on Pakistani wrestler Shahid Usmanr. "I was really working hard for this. It is shattering to know that the event has been cancelled. I have already spent some Rs 2 lakh on the preparation,'' he lamented.

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