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Dispur gifts flat to Deka
- Sporting fraternity welcomes gesture

Guwahati, July 14: Assam’s sporting fraternity today welcomed the state government’s gesture of gifting Mahadeb Deka, the Mr Universe Musclemania Superbody contest winner, a residential flat in the city but hoped similar gestures are extended to all achievers in officially recognised sporting events.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi yesterday handed over the papers of a flat to Deka at the former’s official residence here.

This was the third ceremonial handing over of incentives to sportspersons in a month. Earlier, the chief minister had handed over Rs 5 lakh to archer Jayanta Talukdar for his Arjuna Award in 2007 and Rs 10 lakh to boxer Kalpana Choudhury for her 4th Asian Championship gold here last year.

The state government had also announced similar incentives of Rs 5 lakh to tennis player Somdev Dev Varman for playing in the Chennai Open final early this year and Rs 1 lakh to boxer Shiva Thapa for winning the junior boys’ gold in the World Boxing Championship last month.

However, sports organisers and players see a “disparity” in the quantum of incentive extended to Deka compared to sportspersons who have achieved more in recognised sporting disciplines.

“We are happy the chief minister has presented Deka with a residential flat. However, compared to that, Kalpana Choudhury and Shiva Thapa deserved more than what the government has given them because their achievement is definitely big if not more than a television reality show achievement,” said Assam Amateur Boxing Association general secretary Hemanta Kalita.

Arjuna awardee Jayanta’s father Ranjan Talukdar, too, felt his son deserved more. “I appreciate the government for rewarding him with a set of equipment after he won the World Cup in 2006 and then Rs 5 lakh for being awarded the Arjuna.

“However, the government did not acknowledge his winning a double in the World Cup this time and for securing a bronze in the Doha Asian Games. Thus, compared to what the government has given to Deka, which I hail as a good gesture, Jayanta has not yet been suitably rewarded,” Talukdar senior said.

Similarly, Nagaon body-builder Gautam Kalita, who, too, had won the Mr World title in the same Musclemania contest in 2007, is yet to be looked upon by the state government with a token of appreciation.

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