Asian Games silver medallist Harmilan Bains courts row over shifting from Punjab to Chandigarh : The Tribune India

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Asian Games silver medallist Harmilan Bains courts row over shifting from Punjab to Chandigarh

Under bond with Punjab, liable to play for it for 3 years or return Rs 1.5 cr award

Asian Games silver medallist Harmilan Bains courts row over shifting from Punjab to Chandigarh

Harmilan Bains. File photo



Tribune News Service

Deepankar Sharda

Chandigarh, February 15

Two days after she announced to represent Chandigarh while shifting from Punjab, Hangzhou Asian Games double silver medallist runner Harmilan Bains is surrounded with controversy owing to an affidavit she had submitted to the Punjab Government.

The decorated athlete, who won two silver medals (1500m and 800m) at the Hangzhou Asian Games, was awarded with a cash award of Rs 1.5 crore by the Punjab Government last month. While applying for the cash award, the Punjab native had signed an affidavit/bond with the government, which restrained her from representing others states for at least three years.

As per clause IV of the signed bond, a player who claims cash award from Punjab will be liable to play for the (Punjab) state for the next three years at national and international levels. If he/she fails to follow the clause, the player is liable to return the cash award to the state. The bond was signed by Harmilan on October 9 last year.

Just two days ago, the Chandigarh Athletics Association (CAA) had announced that Harmilan has got all necessary approvals to represent the city in future international and national events. This surely did not go down well with the Punjab Government.

Harmilan is currently off to Iran (Tehran) to participate in the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships from February 21-23. As per the CAA, she is representing Chandigarh in the 15-member Indian squad for the championship.

“She got Rs 1.5 crore (for winning two silver medals) on January 14 this year and on February 13, we came to know from the media that she has shifted to Chandigarh. We have clearly mentioned in the bond, a player taking cash awards from Punjab will be liable to represent the state for the next three years or the amount should be returned,” said a senior functionary of the Punjab Sports Department. The official added, “The government had given her around Rs 8 lakh to prepare for the Asian Games. The department is surely considering some action (against her).”

“I will be talking on this once I am back from Tehran. I am working with the RBI and posted in Chandigarh. Anyhow, I won’t be representing Punjab in future. The decision to shift to Chandigarh was my own, and I have taken all necessary approvals from associations of both Punjab and UT,” said Harmilan while talking to Chandigarh Tribune from Dubai.

“The government failed to give us jobs. It adopted pick-and-choose policy while announcing jobs for the state sportspersons. I am being pushed into controversy intentionally,” she added.

The Punjab official said: “She has been with the RBI for long, but represented Punjab and took the cash prize. The jobs were awarded to those who won medals at Olympics or some of the sportspersons who bagged laurels for the country consecutively in the last Asian Games. She should have considered her job part while singing the bond.”

Harmilan is one of the athletes from Punjab, who had openly confronted the state sports minister on her arrival from Hangzhou Games and expressed resentment over a low cash award in comparison to other states.

In 2018, cricketer Harmanpreet Kaur had found herself in a bit of a tussle regarding her employment in a government body. The batter was offered the post of DSP in Punjab Police, but she not relieved by Western Railway where she worked as an office superintendent. Western Railway had asked her to pay Rs 27 lakh, if she resigned before the end of the five-year term.

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