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NEW DELHI: Utter chaos reigned outside the VIP Lounge of the Indira Gandhi International Airport ahead of the arrival of Olympic bronze medallists Vijender Singh and Sushil Kumar on Monday night.
A couple of hundred mute uniformed men from the Delhi Police and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) allowed the situation to go out of hand after they inadvertently stopped Vijender Singh’s father Mahipal Singh Beniwal, the boxer’s uncle and brother at the gate of the Ceremonial Lounge.
Even as the issue was being resolved, the policemen failed to prevent a group of over 100 wrestlers who jumped over the gate by planting their feet on the crouching news photographers. It was at this stage that all hell broke loose.Equipment damaged
The commotion also left a several news photographers narrowly escaping serious injuries. A couple of them discovered that their laptops were damaged when they were protecting their camera equipment. Later, the photographers’ face-off with the Sports Minister M.S. Gill ended on a bitter note.
The submissive security personal could have handled the situation much better. But once they freely allowed several members from the wrestling and boxing fraternity into what is considered a high security area, there was no room for redemption.Akhil’s parents injured
There was a near-stampede at the end of which boxer Akhil Kumar’s father Shiv Bhagwan and mother Shyam Devi hurt their knees. Jitender Kumar’s father Sajjan Kumar Sharma joined Akhil’s parents outside the shut door of the VIP Lounge and waited for over an hour after the aircraft from Beijing had touched down at 12:28 a.m.
"It is a complete failure of the security personnel who just did not perform their duty," said Shiv Bhagwan, clutching a bouquet he brought for son Akhil Kumar. "Why did not anyone organise things better? It is understandable that fans and others dancing to the drumbeats want to celebrate the arrival of the medallists. They are bound to get excited but what are those in authority doing?" he asked.
Sajjan Kumar Sharma also echoed Shiv Bhagwan’s views and added, "Things could have been worse but thank god, a stampede was averted."Mob on the move
More chaos was created when former Asian Games gold medallist wrestler Satpal, the ‘guru’ of Sushil Kumar, was mobbed by his fans. They took Sushil Kumar all over the parking area in front of the Ceremonial lounge. The surprised policemen did not know how to handle the situation and the mob followed Satpal to add to the chaos.
In the meantime, boxer Vijender Singh was whisked away by the boxing federation president Abhay Singh Chauthala and his armed guards in a waiting vehicle.
Satpal spoke more than his protege Sushil. The two then went inside the VIP Lounge and stayed put for over half an hour before getting a fresh round of applause when they reappeared and got into the waiting vehicle.
If Abhinav Bindra’s welcome was disorganised, the one on Monday night was a disaster that almost turned tragic.
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