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Commonwealth curse strikes

- Senior official and referee arrested in Glasgow
Rajiv Mehta

London, Aug. 3: The secretary-general of the Indian Olympic Association, Rajiv Mehta, has been arrested for an alleged assault on women following what appears to be a drink-driving incident, in a huge embarrassment for the country at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

As if that was not bad enough for the Indian contingent, an unattached wrestling referee has been arrested too for an alleged sexual assault.

A statement from Glasgow police confirmed the arrests but refused to divulge more. “On Saturday 2nd August a 49-year-old man was arrested following the report of an alleged assault in the city centre of Glasgow. On Saturday 2nd August a 45-year-old man was arrested following the report of an alleged assault in the West End of the city,” the statement said. The police did not name the men but it is understood that Mehta is the first and wrestling referee Virender Singh Malik, the second.

Both were reportedly lodged at a local hotel and were not staying at the Games village with India’s 215-strong contingent that earned the country a fifth-place finish with 64 medals, including 15 golds.

Yesterday’s arrests marked yet another controversial chapter for the country at the Games after the scam-ridden 2010 event that India had hosted. Alleged irregularities in the award of contracts then had eventually led to the arrest of organising committee chief Suresh Kalmadi and several other officials.

A note from the Indian high commission in London confirmed the police actions.

“Our consulate in Edinburgh has deputed an official to Glasgow to keep in touch with the police authorities to ascertain the full factual details of the case. We are also in touch with the team,” the high commission’s note said.

The two men are due to appear before the Glasgow Sheriff Court tomorrow.

“We are aware of the matter. It is a matter of Scotland police and any question related to this issue should be addressed to them,” PTI quoted Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Mike Hooper as saying.

Sources said Mehta had gone to a reception and was driving back, apparently after having had one too many. He hit another car that had two women occupants. Mehta must have got into some sort of an argument.

When the Indian high commission in London asked its consulate in Edinburgh to send a representative, Mehta had at first refused to talk to the official.

Mehta’s wife and children have accompanied him to Glasgow, though it is understood they were not with him at the time of his arrest.

The people of Glasgow would probably view Mehta’s case with a certain amount of indulgence. Getting drunk on a Saturday night — or any night for that matter — and getting into a fight is part of the rich tapestry of Glasgow life.

With Malik, who is not part of the Indian contingent but attended the Games as a technical official, it is understood that a female staff member at the lodgings where he was staying made a complaint against him.

In Delhi, a wrestling official expressed surprise at Malik’s arrest. “Malik is a senior referee who had been to several international meets. He was always known to be a gentle person.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked for a full report on the behaviour of the two men. Before leaving for Nepal, Modi was said to have been livid on learning that one of the officials was none other than Mehta, the secretary-general of India’s apex sports body.

In the IOA pecking order, the secretary-general is number two after the president.


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