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Police wound stadium pride

- Litterbug jawans & families refuse to vacate Hotwar premises two years on, IG plays defensive

Clothes line near running tracks, garbage on the greens and open-air toilets everywhere. Welcome to Jaipal Singh Munda Mega Sports Complex — Ranchi’s new police lines.

Two years have gone by since the National Games were held at this nine-stadium complex in Hotwar. But, security personnel deployed to protect the world-class sporting infrastructure during the event refuse to vacate the premises even today on the simple pretext that they have not received orders from seniors.

Around 1,000 jawans from Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP), Jharkhand Jaguar and Cobra have turned the mega sports complex, particularly the Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium, into their permanent home, complete with spouses and children. They live, cook, eat and make merry, while multi-crore infrastructure goes from wow to woeful.

Sports department officials claimed they had written to the police brass more than once, asking them to pull out the forces, but in vain.

“Last year, our management committee — comprising the chief minister, the sports minister and secretary, and other senior officials — had decided that the complex should be vacated. Jawans were to be asked to return to their respective districts or posts. A letter was sent to the home department, seeking its help in doing the needful. Nothing happened after that,” said a senior official of Sports Authority of Jharkhand.

While the home department and police remained oblivious, the athletics stadium was left languishing amid garbage and sewage.

“The Hotwar premises no longer looks like a sports complex. There is cooking and washing being done everywhere; domestic garbage is choking sewers and raising a stink; children are attending nature’s call on the field; in a nutshell, the stadium is in total mess,” said a sports official.

According to him, the department had granted the forces 10 dormitories. “But, they have grabbed many more. They broke open locks, damaged doors and ceilings and ruined bathrooms. Even the tracks are being destroyed,” the official rued. “Although we have deputed cleaning and maintenance staff, the latter fear to enter the athletics stadium because the jawans tend to harass them,” he claimed.

Sports secretary Ajoy Kumar Singh didn’t respond to several calls made to him.

Director of sports Ashok Kumar, who has taken charge recently, conceded that rogue jawans were causing many problems. “When I visited recently, I found slabs covering drains broken, cables snapped and lavatories made defunct. Once I see the past order files in this regard, I will try to take up the matter with my seniors,” he said.

A JAP jawan, who lives with at the sports complex with her two-year-old child, said: “We can’t move out unless we get orders from the top. In fact, it is not easy for us to stay here.”

IG (special branch) S.N. Pradhan said vacate orders could be issued in “two minutes” provided the sports department gave the police in writing that it would be able to protect the sports complex on its own.

“Why are sports officials adopting double standards? Space is not a problem for us. We just have to be told in writing that no further help is needed from us,” he added.

Should police jawans be forced to vacate the Hotwar complex?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com