Protests in Manipur over Monika Devi’s dope report (Lead)

August 7th, 2008 - 3:44 pm ICT by IANS  


Imphal, Aug 7 (IANS) Police burst teargas shells and baton charged hundreds of Manipuri sportspersons who tried to the storm the chief minister’s residence here Thursday to protest the removal of weightlifter Laishram Monika Devi from the Beijing Olympic squad after she failed a dope test. A police spokesman said about 500 people, all of them sportspersons, took out a rally and tried to enter the chief minister’s residence when police intervened.

“We burst teargas shells and resorted to mild baton charge to disperse the protesters. The situation is normal and there were no reports of any injuries,” the police official said.

Authorities later allowed five of the protesters to meet the chief minister.

“We want a thorough investigation and the intervention of the Manipur government to ensure that Monika Devi is included in the Indian Olympic squad,” one of the protesters said.

Meanwhile, family members of Monika Devi and locals said the entire episode was a conspiracy and an attempt to defame sportspersons from the northeast.

“This entire episode is nothing but a conspiracy against my daughter to promote someone else. We want the test to be confirmed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and request the authorities to repeat the test at the doping test facility in Beijing,” Monika’s father L. Nabachandra Singh told IANS.

Monika Devi, hailing from Potsangbam Nachou village in Bishnupur district, was to compete in the 69 kg category at the Beijing Olympics beginning Friday.

“This is another attempt at defaming sportspersons from the northeast and reflects the attitude of the mainstream towards the northeast,” said Brajamani Singh, a community elder in capital Imphal.

Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh has also taken serious view of the matter. “We cannot simply accept the reports and are ready to send our sports minister (N. Biren) to New Delhi to take up the matter at the highest level,” the chief minister told journalists.

Monika, who was India’s lone woman representative in weightlifting, was selected at the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) trial last month. She bagged a silver medal at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006.

The Manipuri girl was pulled out of the Indian squad for Olympic Games after testing positive for an anabolic salt in a doping test conducted by the Sports Authority of India June 29. However, she pleaded innocence.

Manipur Olympic Association president Elangbam Binoykumar Singh also sought a detailed investigation.

“We are trying our best to get in touch with the IOA for a thorough probe,” Singh said.

Judokas Khumujam Tombi Devi and archer Laishram Bombayla Devi are the other two sportspersons from Manipur in the Indian Olympic squad.

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