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Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar arrested for murder after 20-day manhunt

Sushil Kumar, one of India’s most popular athletes, is accused of murder.

Sushil Kumar - WRESTLING-CGAMES-2018-GOLD-COAST
Sushil Kumar after he won Gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
Photo credit should read YE AUNG THU/AFP via Getty Images

Freestyle wrestler Sushil Kumar, India’s most decorated solo athlete—the only Indian to medal twice at the Olympics in an individual sport—has been captured by Delhi police after a multi-state manhunt. Kumar is suspected of orchestrating the beating death of fellow wrestler Sagar Rana, which happened at Chhatrasal Stadium complex on May 4.

Al Jazeera reports that Kumar was arrested in New Delhi yesterday.

Kumar had been subject of a cash reward offered by Delhi police. Kumar’s passport had also been confiscated and raids to find him were carried out across Delhi and neighbouring states Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

Delhi police uploaded video to their official Twitter page showing the moment Kumar was brought before a court.

Kumar is accused of orchestrating the abduction and beating of Rana and his two friends. It is alleged that Kumar, along with some accomplices, beat Rana and the others with hockey sticks. The surviving victims identified their attackers and claimed that the assault was over Rana badmouthing Kumar. Rana used to rent a property belonging to Kumar, but was evicted when he could not pay rent.

According to India Today Kumar is accused of asking his friend Prince Dalal to record the beating on his cellphone. Kumar is also accused of telling Dalal that he wanted the video to go viral. Police have this video.

Before he was arrested Kumar filed an application for bail, claiming that he was the victim of a bias police investigation and that he was under threat by dangerous criminals. Rana is the son of a local police officer. Kumar claimed that one of Rana’s friends is a career criminal and member of the notorious Bishnoi street gang.

Kumar’s bail application was rejected. He is now expected to remain in custody until his trial.

Before this incident Kumar was easily one of India’s most popular athletes. In 2009 he was the recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Kel Ratna, India’s highest honour in sports.

Kumar won a bronze medal 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.

Kumar has also won one World Championship and multiple Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Championships.

Vinod Tomar of Wrestling Federation India told Al Jazeera that Kumar’s arrest has “badly hurt” the image of Indian wrestling.

The case involving Kumar is the second PR blow the WFI has taken in recent months. Sukhwinder Mor, a wrestling coach, is currently awaiting trial for the murder of five people, including a rival coach.