The Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday transferred Delhi Principal Secretary (Revenue) Sanjeev Khirwar to Ladakh, hours after a report by The Indian Express said that the government-run Thyagraj Stadium was being closed for sports activities earlier than usual so that the officer could walk his dog at the facility.
The home ministry also transferred Khirwar’s wife, Rinku Dugga, to Arunachal Pradesh. She was serving as the secretary, land and building, in the Delhi government.
“The MHA had sought a report from the Delhi chief secretary on the news report regarding the misuse of facilities at Thyagraj Stadium by Sanjeev Khirwar and his wife Rinku Dugga,” an unidentified official told The Indian Express. “The chief secretary submitted a report later in the evening…Khirwar has been transferred by MHA to Ladakh and Rinku Dugga to Arunachal Pradesh. Necessary action will be initiated based on the report.”
Sportspersons and coaches at the Thyagraj Stadium told The Indian Express that they were being forced to end their practice before time so that the Indian Administrative Service officers could walk their dog.
“We used to train till 8-8.30 pm under lights earlier,” a coach, on condition of anonymity, told the newspaper. “But now, we are asked to leave the ground by 7 pm so that the officer can walk his dog on the ground. Our training and practise routine has been disrupted.”
A junior athlete at the stadium said that he was forced to train in the heat since their practice sessions were being ended before time. “Earlier, I took water breaks once every half-hour,” the unidentified athlete told The Indian Express. “Now I need a drink every five minutes.”
Khirwar told the newspaper that he visits the facility sometimes along with his pet. However, he dismissed claims that his walks were disrupting the practice sessions of athletes at the stadium.
“I would never ask an athlete to leave the stadium that belongs to them,” Khirwar added. “Even if I visit, I go after the stadium is supposed to close...We don’t leave him [the dog] on the track…when no one is around we leave him but never at the cost of any athlete. If it’s something objectionable, I will stop it.”
Delhi government revises timings
After the report of the stadium being closed earlier than usual emerged, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that all sports facilities run by his government will stay open till 10 pm.
“The matter came to me today [Thursday] morning,” Kejriwal said, according to The Indian Express. “Due to the heat and rising temperature, sportspersons are facing problems in continuing training and the stadium closes by 6 pm. So, we have decided to allow all stadiums under the Delhi government to stay open till 10 pm.”
On Thursday, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi unit chief Adesh Gupta wrote to the newly appointed Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, seeking action against Khirwar. “I would like to apprise you that the deeds of some administrators are giving a bad name to Delhi,” he said. “Therefore, you are requested to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in future.”
Congress leader Manish Tewari also asked Union minister Jitendra Singh to take action in the matter.