IHF issues warning to President Batra for angry social media post

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A written warning has been issued by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to its President Narinder Batra while he has also been ordered to make an unspecified but compulsory donation to charity after he posted incendiary messages on social media last year.

Batra, the former President of Hockey India and current head of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), criticised police in Britain last June for summoning Indian player Sardar Singh for questioning after a Hockey World League semi-final match in London, reportedly in connection with an alleged sexual assault case.

He claimed “England is a country which is a safe heaven (sic) for all fraudsters who have run away from India and agree to invest in England” after British authorities asked Singh in for questioning.”

The former Indian captain, who had just played in his country’s 7-1 win over Pakistan, was asked to travel to Leeds to be questioned.

In 2016, Singh was accused by a British woman of rape and assault both in India and the UK.

“I would love to see the reaction of England and world media if in India the England players are called to police stations,” Batra wrote on his Facebook page.

“Request the Indian media to get the Ministry of External Affairs and Indian High Commission in UK involved.”

Batra’s outburst had led to the FIH initiating a disciplinary proceeding, which has now come to an end.

The FIH have not, however, commented directly on separate posts by Batra criticising Kashmiri separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

“The FIH Replacement Disciplinary Commissioner has concluded a disciplinary proceeding against the President of the FIH, Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra, regarding a Facebook post on 19 June 2017 on his personal account in which English law enforcement authorities were accused of acting in an inappropriate manner in relation to the summoning of Indian player Sardar Singh during the Hero Hockey World League semi-final London 2017,” an FIH statement reads.

“Dr Batra regrets his actions and has publicly apologised for his emotional statement.

“Dr Batra was given a written warning.

“He shall pay an undisclosed amount to a sports charity institution and bear the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

“He is not restricted in any way to pursue his functions as the FIH President.”

In a separate incident, Batra posted a series of messages on Facebook after Kashmiri separatist leader Farooq used Twitter to congratulate the Pakistan cricket team after they beat India in the final of the Champions Trophy at The Oval in London.

Farooq is the spiritual leader of the Muslims in Kashmir, a territory disputed by India, Pakistan and China.

Pakistan had thrashed their Indian opponents by 180 runs in the final of the International Cricket Council Champions Trophy, sparking wild scenes of celebration in Kashmir Valley, which is administered by India.

Batra, elected as FIH President in November 2016, responded to Farooq’s tweets with a derogatory Facebook post.

The Indian labelled Farooq as a “Pakistani sucker” and a “pig”, before claiming he should return to Pakistan.

The FIH head also called Farooq a “Pakistan sympathiser”.

“Why doesn’t Government of India pick up this Pakistani sucker and pig Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and throw him across the border,” Batra wrote.

“Why does my country tolerate these Pakistan sympathisers?”

Batra then concluded the post by calling himself a “proud Kashmiri” and a “patriotic Indian”.

Batra personally apologised to Executive Board members and “several” nations for his series of abusive posts.

The FIH had previously apologised for the comments.

Pakistan Hockey Federation secretary general and Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games bronze medallist Shahbaz Ahmed had called on Batra to say sorry for his actions.

The end of the disciplinary proceeding comes just days after Batra met with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in India.

Batra claimed during a joint press conference with Bach that India would bid for the 2032 Olympics, 2030 Asian Games and 2026 Youth Olympics.

He signalled his intention for India to bid for major sporting competitions when he was elected IOA President in December.

When asked by insidethegames for clarification about its decision regarding Batra’s posts about Farooq, an FIH spokesperson stated: “The investigation was triggered by Dr Batra’s Facebook post on Sardar Singh’s summons by the English police.

“Dr Batra’s Facebook post relating to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on 19 June 2017 was also taken into consideration when the sanction was determined.”

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