Kanwar Pal Singh Gill, an author, sports administrator, supercop, superman, Made-in-India-Rambo, or KPS Gill, a wanton killer, megalomaniac, bloody butcher, cold blooded criminal, Made-in-India-Hitler. His tenure as chief of Punjab Police and Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), two different terms, has earned him several sobriquets.
So call him, what you may, but there is something about this man which stands him apart, way apart.
One look at him, and you would know what I am talking about. He comes across like an automaton with his face, eyes and voice registering no emotion. To boot, he does not talk. And if he does, he is animated and cant be reasoned with. Or reasoned out. When asked about the debacle of the hockey team once, he famously snapped, “the team has lost. I have not.”
I have always felt that he worked on his images. Both. He always wished to be powerful rather than charming, feared rather than loved which created a twin persona. And, as Bertrand Russle said, to this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history.
Somebody, widely credited with winning the battle against terrorism in Punjab in nineties putting the fear up the terrorists with his carrot and assassination policy, cannot one day be imagined of talking of authority without responsibility like he is often accused of doing in his 14-year IHF term. And yes, he is the same man, who is alternatively accused of extrajudicial executions and praised for dedicating his post retirement years to the cause of hockey, which before him, or ever before, was in shambles.
A section of the Sikh community condemned Gill as a “khakiwala gunda” whereas people like Khushwant Singh called him the saviour of Sikhs in Punjab. Human rights activist J S Khalra, who died a few years back, accused Gill of the genocide of more than 2,000 innocent people in the name of anti-terrorist operations in Punjab. Forces under him have always been accused of having adopted excessive measures during the insurgency in the state, killing many thousands in staged shootouts and cremating or disposing off their bodies without proper identification or post-mortem.
All said and done, he has been recently appointed as a consultant by the Chhatisgarh government to help tackle the Naxalite movement in the state, looks after the Institute for Conflict Management, edits a magazine called “Faultlines”, gives secret consultancy to a few neighbouring countries in their anti-insurgency missions, and heads, yes, very much heads the Indian Hockey Federation. Still. After his April 28’s so-announced sacking by Indian Olympic Association (IOA). Something like Bush sacking the Indian leadership.
There is no clause in the Constitution of IOA which gives it the power to dissolve any sports body or sack its President, even in most unusual situations. The most IOA could do was to send a show cause notice to IHF asking for an explanation on poor performance of its players or on the cash-for-selection episode, which it never cared to send. In the event of a show cause sent and even rejected by IOA, the utmost the supreme sport body could do was to de-affiliate IHF from IOA, and that too only under the following conditions:
(1) If IHF repeatedly refused to follow IOA directives;
(2) If IHF failed to hold elections after office-bearers’ tenures ran out; or
(3) If IHF failed to present its annual audited accounts, annual report or list of office-bearers.
Clearly, IHF has not violated any of these conditions. But I was both shocked and amused when almost all newspapers and tv channels reported that Gill was sacked and a new president had taken over IHF. If Gill brought shame to hockey, our sports journalists brought shame to reporting. If that was not sports, this was not sports reporting.
My only concern now is why Gill is silent after this blackwash. To assert his position of power, three days back he did release his list of players for Azlan Shah tournament starting this week in Malaysia, but I am sure there is more to come. I, for one, am confident that the proverbial crouching tiger, hidden dragon will emerge, roar, spew venom. One more time. For the simple reason that he cant lie low.
C’mmon, KPS, Chak De. Hockey needs a new life. And there’s hope, for as former star forward Mohammed Shahid once said on his debacle, “maut ke baad bhi zindagi hoti hai.”
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Copyright © 2008 Neeraj Bhushan. All Rights Reserved.
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