Pehalwanji wrestled down on the mat on World Wrestling Day

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Special Cell nabs absconding Olympic Champ

Falling from grace, the wrestler- two-time Olympic medalist- who brought the nation fame and did India proud has been arrested in connection with another fellow wrestler’s murder by Delhi Police’s Special Cell. This has wrecked his illustrious career, he has been suspended from his job as a senior commercial manager with Indian Railways, he has also been stripped him of honours and awards like Padam Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour of India, Arjun Award, and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratan Award.

There are many old traditional akharas with Bharat Kesri, (Padam Shri) Chandgiram, Ring Road, Civil Lines, and Dronacharya (Padam Shri) Guru Hanuman, Roshanara Park North Delhi topping the list of Deshi kushti. Guru Hanuman has turned out wrestlers at an International level; Dara Singh and Satpal are among them.

Delhi’s Chhatarsal Stadium has been home to many wrestlers who performed at various levels. Sushil from Baprola, Najafgarh joined the stadium as a lad of 14 from a very humble background and graduated to lording it over years on end. Chhatarsal has been Sushil’s de facto home for several decades. Guru Satpal (PadamBhushan) took him under his wing and coached him in honing the finer

points of wrestling and the subtle nuances of the game. He became a decorated wrestler of all time.

Later on, Guru-ji (Satpal) got his daughter (Savi) married to Sushil, the iconic star.  

Sushil scripted history in China, Beijing in 2008. He won an Olympic bronze in wrestling then went one up winning silver at the London Olympics. The Olympian was enjoying the honeymoon times of his career but it was curtailed by a murder he is alleged to have committed.

It is often seen that wrestlers end up with jobs like bouncers’, escorts’ and they often pride themselves on resolving disputed property matters if they do not get recruited in government sectors. Most wrestlers with the fondest address of pehalwan ji and with the get-rich-quick mentality aspire to make a quick fortune out of using muscles. The ambition of driving in SUVs with sophisticated weapons with the butt totting out of their tucked-out shirts leads them to connect a strong nexus with gangsters.

On May 4, the 38 year old ego-inflated Sushil  with his cohorts picked up at gunpoint a 23 year old wrestler Sagar Dhankar (Son of an ASI with Delhi Police) from a Model Town house where he had been residing. He was brought to the stadium’s parking where he was assailed. Two of Sagar’s friends were also badly thrashed in the brawl. Sagar later succumbed to injuries.  Sushil and his accomplices fled and went underground soon after the incident.

Sushil and Sagar had links to gangsters; Sushil was associated with notorious Delhi-based gangsters Neeraj Bawana and Kala Asauda, whereas Sagar had connections to the rival Sandeep Kala popularly known as Kala Jathedi, an inter-state gang; near the Delhi-Haryana border. Kala Jathedi wanted in dozens of heinous crimes is believed to be hiding in Thailand and Dubai and operating from there. He has had a strong network of men including Sonu Mahal, Sandeep Kala’s nephew.

Once, Sushil too was associated with the Jathedi gang, the association soured over property disputes and Kumar withdrew from the gang.

As per the sources,  Sushil’s history has had a shady past with the Bawana-Asauda gang;  Kala Asauda (born Rajeev, at Asauda village in Haryana’s Jhajjar district) was shot dead outside a court in Rohtak. He had been standing trial for murder the Asauda sarpanch in 2016.

The four gangsters who had assaulted Sagar were seen traveling to Ghewra village, near Asauda, to meet an associate. The Delhi Police laid a trap and apprehended the quartet before they could attempt to flee. Those arrested were identified as Bhupender, 38 Manjeet, 29,  Mohit, 24, and Gulab, 24. All the four belong to the Asauda gang. Delhi police managed to arrest him with Ajay, his accomplice after the cops had been on a wild goose chase for three weeks.  

After Kala Asauda’s death, Bhupender and Manjeet joined hands with Bawana’s gang. Neeraj Bawana is in Tihar Jail on charges of murder, extortion, and land grabbing. The nabbed gangsters in their confession to the police said that they had reached the stadium around midnight in two SUVs to assault Sagar, apparently called by Sushil.

While Sagar was being beaten up brutally as shown in the video clip, shots were also fired that raised the alarm, the police rushed to the spot and found Sagar, and his friends badly wounded. They were rushed to the hospital.

A double-barrel gun, three rounds of ammunition, and two wooden sticks were recovered from the spot. Bawana is quite active from behind the high walls of Tihar Jail and working with one Naveen Bali lodged in jail.

Sushil had a lull period in the recent past as the pandemic put off many events including the Tokya Games or it can be said that he remained distracted from the game and did not participate in competition and meets. He was believed to have been indulged in land deals instead, and his love for firearms reached fever pitch and he went about flaunting loaded pistols to throw his weight around. People used his name to evict the disputed and possessed property. Now, the murder has left the most feted wrestler’s hard-earned glory in tatters that has darkened all his ways ahead. This bad move of the wrestler has diminished him to a zero.

Controversies refused to leave the ace wrestler Kumar’s side, the past continued catching up with him. The most in the wrestling fraternity sensed foul play with Kumar being the epicenter of it. The police cases against the Olympian seemed walking hand in hand with him. At one time, his professional mates and fellow wrestlers began to distance themselves from Sushil. Bajrang Punia, who is India’s top medal hope in this year’s Tokyo Olympics, had to leave the Chhatrasal akhada with friction with Sushil in 2015. Yogeshwar Dutt once Kumar’s confidant split up with the latter in 2016.

The cocky Kumar with chutzpah did not even spare the owners of small Kirana stores in the neighborhood, he many a time threatened them. One Satish Goyal, a shopkeeper was allegedly roughed up by Kumar and his boys when he asked him for his due of rupees 4 lakh for the ration delivered at the Chhatrasal Stadium. Goyal said that he had been supplying rations at the stadium for 18 years. The relation started when Sushil’s father-in-law Satpal Singh was the coach at the stadium.

Goyal, after he was assaulted, got an FIR filed with PS Model Town, and Sushil was named in it but police took no action. This shows that the pehalwanji used his clout and links with the police officials who favored him and went to the mat for him as and when the wrestler needed them.

Sushil who once bragged about goons seems trapped among them. The tale of the wrestler, son of a bus driver, is like one from rags- to- riches appears to be more like a Bollywood flick but the road ahead is barred for months if not years.

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