By Ila Ananya
In February 2016, when allegations of domestic violence and rape against former hockey captain Sardar Singh were made public, Hockey India conveniently distanced themselves from the issue. Back then they had called it a “private affair between two adult individuals.”
Now, Hockey India has gone further in excusing all the allegations against him — it’s like they’ve forgotten that they exist, or they don’t care — and have recommended Sardar Singh for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.
In June 2016, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) had recommended that an FIR for rape and domestic abuse be filed against Sardar Singh by a British-Asian hockey player he was engaged to.
“He hit me, pinched me, pulled my hair, scratched my face, punched and slapped me on my face, kicked me, strangled me with a scarf. All that started after our formal engagement when I questioned who were the girls sending him the images and texts. For a moment I thought I was dying,” the woman had said in an interview, also alleging that Singh had forced her to abort their child against her wishes. Even Singh’s teammates reportedly knew about the abuse. Finally, in October 2016, the Delhi High Court ordered a stay on the legal proceedings against Singh.
Even when this was in the news before it was conveniently pushed under the carpet, the media had insisted on highlighting Singh’s professional successes, asking him about “how he overcame” the rape allegations and didn’t let “those issues” affect his game.
Constantly, what he felt was given more importance than what the survivor of his abuse had felt, and Hockey India’s new recommendation for him to receive the Khel Ratna Award is only an indication that these men are free to do as they please with no actual consequence. Their careers go on without any hindrance—this time too, the media thought it important to stay away from reporting about the sexual abuse cases against Singh.