Sushil Kumar, the only Indian to ever medal twice at the Olympics for an individual sport, is currently on the run. He is accused of murdering a fellow wrestler, Sagar Rana, at the Chhatrasal stadium complex in New Delhi.
The 23-year-old junior wrestling champion was beaten to death with hockey sticks by a gang of men allegedly lead by Kumar. Two friends of Rana were also assaulted and sustained injuries in the attack.
One of the attackers is believed to have recorded the assault on their cellphone. It has been claimed that the reason for the fatal beating was that Rana, a former tenant of Kumar, had been ‘badmouthing’ and ‘disrespecting’ Kumar.
Kumar, a very popular celebrity in India, has been in hiding since May 4, when the incident took place. According to India Today police have now offered a 100,000 rupees ($1,300) cash reward for information that leads to his capture.
From his hiding place Kumar filed a submission for anticipatory bail with a Delhi court this week (per India TV). However, this application was turned down, meaning that if and when Kumar is arrested he will be held in prison until the time of his trial.
When dismissing Kumar’s bail request, Judge Jadgish Kumar said that, “the allegations against the accused are serious in nature. From the perusal of record of investigation so far, it reveals that prima facie the accused is the main conspirator”.
When he filed his request Kumar stated that the investigation was biased against him and that he was not responsible for any of the injuries sustained by Rana or Rana’s friends. Kumar added that he is willing to co-operate with the investigation to provide a, “true and correct picture of the incident”.
Kumar has also attempted to shift blame for this incident onto one of the friends of Rana who was injured in the brawl, Sonu Kumar. He claimed Sonu is a career criminal and member of a notorious Bishnoi Gang. Furthermore Kumar claimed that he risked reprisals from that gang if he came out of hiding.
In response to Kumar’s pleas, Public Prosecutor Atul Srivastava told the court that video evidence exists showing Kumar hitting the victims with a stick. Srivastava also announced that Kumar’s passport has been confiscated and that authorities have been alerted that Kumar may try and flee the country.
Before this fall from grace Kumar was one of India’s most popular and beloved athletes. He won a bronze medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a silver at the 2012 London Olympics. At the 2012 games he served as India’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremony.
In addition to Olympic medals Kumar has also won one World Championship and multiple Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Championships. In 2009 he received the Rajiv Gandhi Kel Ratna, India’s highest honour in sports.