Snubbed for Arjuna, Nitu threatens legal action

Not recommended for this year’s Arjuna award, boxer Nitu Ghanghas, the reigning world champion in the women’s 48kg division, is contemplating legal recourse to ensure she gets the coveted award.

Nitu Ghanghas in action at CWG 2022.(Twitter/@SAIRohtak)

Nitu applied for the Arjuna in October and was confident of making the shortlist, but the selection committee didn’t recommend her for the award. Among the recommendations made public so far, Mohammad Hussamuddin is the lone boxer to have made the cut.

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“I was quite confident of getting the Arjuna award considering my achievements in the awards cycle, but this snub has dented my morale. I am deeply disappointed and disheartened. I will approach the courts to get my due,” the 23-year-old said.

For the Arjuna award, an athlete’s performance during the last four years is taken into account. This year’s assessment period began on January 1, 2019 and ended with the Asian/Para Games 2023 in October. Nitu made a successful transition from youth to senior circuit in this period, winning the Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham last year before taking gold at the World Championships in March.

“If you look at my achievements in the assessment period, I think there’s no doubt that I deserved a recommendation. Honestly, I was shocked to know that I have been ignored for the Arjuna award,” Nitu said.

Her coach Jagdish Singh backed Nitu’s decision. “We tried meeting sports minister Anurag Thakur twice but were unsuccessful. We have been coming from Bhiwani to Delhi for the last two days hoping to meet him were not given an appointment. We have even written to him explaining our demand but haven’t got any response. It leaves us with little choice but to explore the legal option,” Singh, who coached boxer Vijender Singh to an Olympic bronze in 2008, said.

Nitu and Singh also met lawyer Rahul Mehra on Tuesday. “Our writ petition is being prepared and we will soon approach Delhi high court if we are not given a hearing by the sports minister,” the coach said.

Nitu shot a letter to the sports minister on Sunday asking him to intervene. “I am very surprised to see the Arjuna award list recommended by the committee as my name is not recommended. I fully deserve this award. The slogan ‘beti bacaho beti padhao’ is not being implemented on the ground,” she wrote.

“Kindly interfere in the above matter and include my name in the list,” the letter, also marked to the Prime Minister’s Office, added.

Nitu is not the only disgruntled athlete who has voiced her displeasure over the awards snub. Ace compound archer Jyothi Surekha Vennam has also expressed her disappointment over missing the Khel Ratna nomination — country’s highest sports honour for athletes — and is said to be contemplating legal action.

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