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Haryana: 5 deaths at akhara in cold blood, shooter held, town is torn

A pall of sadness hung over the town, used to stories of wrestling accolades at its akharas than the bloody shootout that ended the life of five at Jaat College’s wrestling academy on Friday evening.

METRES away from an akhara here where hundreds of aspiring wrestlers flock to from across the country, Sundar Singh Malik Saturday waited for his son’s body and prayed for his four-year-old grandson’s life.

A pall of sadness hung over the town, used to stories of wrestling accolades at its akharas than the bloody shootout that ended the life of five at Jaat College’s wrestling academy on Friday evening. Among them was Malik’s son Manoj, a wrestler-turned-coach who headed the academy, and daughter-in-law Sakshi, a former wrestler who held a sports quota job in the Railways. The accused, a National Institute of Sports-certified wrestling coach from Sonipat, Sukhwinder Singh, was held on Saturday from Delhi.

The other three killed were international referee and coach Satish Dalal, and women wrestlers Pradeep Malik and Pooja. Manoj and Sakshi’s son is battling for his life, as is another wrestling coach.

The police, which had announced a Rs 1 lakh reward on information about the shooter, said Sukhwinder was angry as Manoj had removed him from his job at the academy and barred his entry, following allegations of harassment by Pooja, who trained there.

Rohtak Superintendent of Police Rahul Sharma said, “After some complaints were lodged against him, Manoj Malik had removed him as his assistant.” Pooja’s parents, who live in Mathura, had also lodged a police complaint against Sukhwinder.

According to the police, a meeting had been called at the academy on Friday evening to settle the matter. “They met in a room on the first floor while dozens of trainees practised downstairs,” a police officer said. “The meeting did not go as planned and Sukhwinder is believed to have shot everyone, locked the door and left. The CCTV footage at the entry is being examined.” SP Sharma earlier said they had not found any eyewitnesses so far.

Sukhwinder was arrested from Delhi’s Samaypur Badli in a joint operation by the Delhi and Haryana Police. The police said Sukhwinder did not have any weapons registered in his name.

A grieving Sundar said Manoj had supported Sukhwinder when his relations with his family were strained. “But recently, Manoj was told that Sukhwinder was harassing a woman wrester and pressuring her to marry him. He had immediately removed Sukhwinder.”

Breaking down, he added, “People are calling it a fight between sportspersons. My son was a coach, his wife was an athlete… They were killed in cold blood by a criminal, not a sportsperson. Sports gives you a reason to live, not an excuse to kill anyone.”

with ENS, Chandigarh

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