Judo too marred by sports scandal

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ifDjhSIO0iA sport as dynamic as Judo is a martial art form recognised across the world. Judo is a repertoire of physical strength, mental prowess, combined with smart techniques, skills, discipline and perseverance. What is interesting is that the term ‘Judo’ has its origins in Japanese, where ‘Ju’ stands for ‘gentle’ and ‘do’ means ‘the way’. The game originated in the early 1880s with the aim of defending oneself from being bullied.

Judo in India found its place in 1929 after being encouraged by world famous literati and reformer Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.

Some of the notable and finest Indian Judokas of the time, a term referred to address Judo players, are Kalpana Devi, Avtar Singh, Rajwinder Kaur, Sushila Likmabam, Akram Shah, Garima Chaudhary, etc. in whom the country still takes pride in.

Sports of various forms in India have constantly earned glory and laurels at international sporting events, while at the same time, sports bodies in the country have drawn flak and embarrassment due to corrupt and unethical practices by wrongdoers. Names like Suresh Kalmadi, Jagdish Tytler, Abhay Chautala, Lalit Bhanot, VK Verma are some of the few who are still known for notorious sports scandals in India, each of whom have exploited their powerful positions in sports bodies for vested interest.

The Judo scam was, however, never explicitly spoken about before or reported despite being brought to the public’s notice by Judokas on many occasions. Contrary to the essence of the sport, Judo in India couldn’t defend its caretaker bodies — Judo Federation of India (JFI) and Sports Authority of India (SAI), from being vulnerable to a series of rackets under Mukesh Kumar, the former President of JFI. What is more shocking is that the bodies chose to ignore the brewing criminalities, regardless of the fact that such incidents were brought to their notice time and again.

During its investigation, Tehelka came upon evidence that clearly points to a host of irregularities by Kumar like issuing bogus certificates to fake players for kickbacks; submission of fake sports documents by Kumar to acquire jobs in SAI; misappropriation of foreign funds, etc. Copies of documents pointing to the evidence are in possession of Tehelka.

Beginning of Judo scandal
Kumar is known to manipulate the system right from the beginning of his career in sports administration. He submitted forged sports certificates and provided wrong information about his age to join SAI as Hostel Manager in 1989 and later for the post of Director. He even bribed his way to become the JFI Secretary for consecutive three terms (12 years), even when he was already serving at SAI and continued to do so until August 4, 2013. It is to be noted that Kumar never sought prior approval from SAI before contesting for the mentioned post in JFI, which is mandatory as per the Sports Code for office bearers.

Third, Kumar holds the post of General Secretary in Judo Union of Asia (JUA). He is accused of misappropriating foreign funds received from the JUA to run the office of its General Secretary. Instead of spending the specific funds of JUA, Kumar went on misusing the funds, assets, employees and even the accommodation of JFI for running the office of General Secretary, JUA, while the funds of JUA were filling his pocket.

judo 7It was the coach and Judoka, Sushil Mehta, who first filed a complaint to the Sports Authority of India in 2010 under the RTI Act, 2005, seeking information of Mukesh on:

♦ Age of Mukesh as per Higher Secondary Board Examination Certificate,
♦ Year of graduation,
♦ Letter of permission from SAI for holding post of Secretary at JFI,
♦ Authenticity of State or National level sports certificates

After learning about the RTI, Kumar immediately opted for voluntary retirement from SAI to avoid any legal action against him. He, however, continued to serve at JFI till the first week of Feb, 2018.

Mehta, in his RTI, also questioned Kumar’s victory in the North Zone Judo Championship (55 kgs), Delhi, 1980, as the former claimed that it was he who was the real winner of the tournament.

judo 4Mukesh-Sushil deal
Sushil Mehta backed out of the matter for some unknown reasons. It is believed that he had stepped aside for his alleged involvement in the fake certificate racket. An insider told Tehelka that it was Mehta who had apparently helped Kumar in arranging all the forged documents for the latter’s job at SAI.

Another revelation is that the sports certificates of Kumar are actually of Judoka Sushil Mehta, which was duplicated with cognizance of the latter for submission at SAI, as claimed by a source to Tehelka.

It is alleged that a deal was struck between the two, Mukesh and Sushil, where the former promised a job to the latter in favour of forged documents, but the deal did not turn out as promised. A betrayed Sushil then decided to spill the beans and expose the fake certificate scandal of Mukesh through an RTI.

judo 6The continuation of corruption at JFI later pushed Arjuna Awardee, Judoka and currently Senior Intelligence Officer (SIO) with the Punjab Police, Yashpal Solanki, to take up the matter in 2014 and file a PIL to bring the never-spoken-of Judo fake certificate racket to light.

“Being a sportsman and Judoka myself, I cannot tolerate the injustice done to the true spirit of the talented sportsmen of my country. It takes blood and sweat of sportsmen to earn pride and respect at various global sports platforms. The matter of bogus sports certificates to the undeserving ones is a disregard to our country and its sportsmen. This is a high-level corruption case where the higher authorities in Judo sports are hand-in-glove,” Yashpal told Tehelka.

Timeline of Judo scandal

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June 1989

Mukesh Kumar was appointed to the position of Hostel Manager (Assistant Director) in SAI. To get the job, Mukesh produced forged certificates and false information regarding his sports achievements (copies of which are published below).

July 2001

Mukesh Kumar is appointed as the Secretary of JFI. He served in his position for four years while simultaneously working at SAI.  As per a source, Mukesh influenced the JFI body with money power to gain the position.

July 2005

Mukesh Kumar is again appointed as the Secretary of Judo Federation of India for the second term. This time, too, it is without any approval from the SAI, while serving as the Hostel Manager.

August 2009

Again, for the third term, with the help of bribes, Mukesh is elected to the post of Secretary, JFI. No permission was taken from the SAI prior to the election.

January  2011

Through an RTI Sushil Mehta obtained the information of Mukesh’s date of birth and copies of his forged sports certificates.

December  2011

Mukesh took voluntary retirement from SAI to avoid being under the lens and disclosure of age and copies of his forged sports certificates.

October  2013

Mukesh contested the election for the President’s office and became the President of JFI without fulfilling the eligibility criteria.

Let’s have a look at the timeline above to know how the bogus Judo certificates case unfolded. In 2014, for the first time, Petitioner Yashpal reported the matter of forged documents to the General Secretary, JFI, Man Mohan Jaiswal after receiving information from the then government observer Cawas Billimoria (through email). The email clearly mentioned that there was no action taken by SAI even after the matter was reported.

In 2015, the High Court of Delhi asked JFI to advise Mukesh Kumar to demit from the post of President immediately, but there was no action until Feb 2018.

judo 1If all that was not enough, as per the petition, Kumar, once again took lakhs of rupees from the Judokas and participants with the promise of sending them to Commonwealth Championship 2016, which didn’t happen. The money of the Judokas was returned only after numerous complaints were filed against him.

While Kumar remained silent on the matter despite repeated attempts by Tehelka to reach him, we were finally able to speak to him through his wife’s mobile number. On being asked about the bogus sports certificates, Kumar said, “It is a lie. Andhra Pradesh sports authority provided us the list of the winners and participants, after which we only awarded the certificates to them.”

Tehelka further asked him whether he then thinks that the bogus sports certificates case is a conspiracy against him, to which he replied, “I don’t want to comment.” It is impossible to have carried out the scandal without the support of officials from the fraternity of JFI and SAI, said a source.

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