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The curious case of Vijender Singh - Aditya Raj Kaul - The Sunday Indian
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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The curious case of Vijender Singh


India's boxing poster boy, in trouble over drug connections, is no stranger to controversy. Aditya Raj Kaul investigates
ADITYA RAJ KAUL | Issue Dated: March 24, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Vijender Singh | Drug scandal | Boxer Ram Singh |

Olympic bronze medalist winning boxer Vijender Singh is not just another sportsperson. Since 2008 when he did the country proud at Beijing, life has been in the constant fast lane. Despite a bad outing at the London Olympics in 2012, he has been in the news; issuing positive statements here, inaugurating a shop there, a top draw at modeling events in the company of actresses, and generally, the man about town.

Vijendra's success at the highest level in international sport has invited comparisons with Sylvester Stallone, not just for the dashing looks but also the Sly's hook and uppercut. The 27-year-old Jat strongman from little known Sirsa in Haryana had well and truly arrived.

But this arrivers' genial facade was shorn to bits this week he was questioned by the Punjab Police in Chandigarh for links with a drug peddler following a major haul in Zirakpur, close to Chandigarh. The story was sensational: the police first swooped on Anoop Singh Kahlon, an NRI businessman, an alleged international drug peddler, and recovered from him 26 kgs of heroin estimated at Rs 130 crores. An SUV registered in the name of Archana Singh, Vijender’s wife, was found outside Kahlon’s residence. The NRI told the police that Vijendra and his sparring partner Ram Singh were his `clients.'

Vijendra has denied any connection to Kahlon but has also refused so far, to share a sample of his blood and hair for forensic examination.

Insiders say Vijendra is no stranger to controversy and had raised eyebrows in 2006 when his best friend and boxer Sonu Chahal died under mysterious circumstances. The 20-year-old was found hanging to a ceiling fan at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel in Bhiwani on March 12, 2006, a place where he also trained. Barely hours before, Sonu had been happily grooving to Hindi songs at a friend's wedding. A potential winner had been nipped in the bud.

While the police had registered a case of suicide, the forensic report claimed “foul play”. The report, a copy of which is available with TSI, clearly states that “based on the type of knots around the fan and the neck and the position of the body, foul play cannot be ruled out.”

Four years later in 2010, the Punjab and Haryana High Court took cognizance of the fact that there was more to Sonu’s death than an open and shut case of suicide. Under pressure from Sonu's family over charges of botched investigations, the case was transferred to the CBI.

Sonu's family had barely started to heave a sigh of relief when the CBI closed investigations in the case calling it a suicide. Said the closure report of the CBI filed in August 2011,“The investigation has disclosed that Sonu Chahal was in love with Seema, also a boxer, and wanted to marry her. But his parents were not in favour of their marriage as they belonged to different castes. Moreover, when Seema developed an intimacy with another youth, Sonu went into depression and committed suicide out of frustration”.

The CBI report cleared the four main accused as well. ``During the course of investigations, it was found that the four accused Narender Sangwan, Pawan Rathi (both boxers), coach Jagdish Singh and Balwan Singh, watchman of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel, named in the FIR were found innocent”.

When asked, Vijendra Singh told this magazine, “Sonu was my best friend for almost seven years. I was emotionally disturbed when I heard the news. If I was in Bhiwani, this death would not have happened.” He, however, refused to speculate whether it could have been murder. ``The police would have a better picture on this,'' he replied.

In 2010, the victim's father Charan Singh Chahal had told TSI that Sonu was murdered. ``I knew from day one that he was murdered. The injury marks on his necks cannot be of someone who commits suicide.” The father is convinced to this day that the coach was behind the killing.

“Sonu became aware of a fake certificate racket being run by certain higher ups and was therefore silenced. I have appealed to the CBI to take over the case as it concerns the death of someone who played for the country both at the national and international level”, said the distraught father, who is sadly and unsurprisingly, left fending for himself.

Sources in the Haryana police, on conditions of anonymity, say that the influential background of those in question have compelled the police to go against the forensic findings that hint at “foul play”.

Charan Singh Chahal says that while the police report did not detect any marks of internal injury, the postmortem report said there were “horizontal marks on his neck, which clearly refers to murder”. He says he has ample proof and will continue his quest for justice, despite the fact that he has only got assurances but very little else.

Some members of the famous Bhiwani Boxing Club in Haryana told TSI that “Vijender Singh would have certainly been aware of the reality behind Sonu Chahal’s murder which perhaps is boxing rivalry, but he has consciously remained silent”. Perhaps, he has a good reason.

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Posted By: Tani Khanna | New Delhi | March 14th 2013 | 12:03
This is really shameful on the part of our 'youth icons'. What inspiration are they giving... very sad and disappointing.

Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017