There was a story doing the rounds here a couple of weeks ago, which is so quintessentially Delhi that I just have to share it with you, baffling as it may appear to non-Delhi-ites/non-Indians.

I mean we are, after all, battling a terrible heat wave here in Delhi.

Plus crazy water shortages.

Plus seriously bad air quality.

Then there is all the pan-India stuff…inflation, job shortages, increasing communalism. That sort of stuff.

But all of those worries were pushed to one side for a while, as we all laughed with delight as schadenfreude caught up with two civil servants who – hold onto your hats! – turfed athletes out of a public stadium and had it closed down, so they could walk their dog.

Now if that isn’t the definition of entitlement, I don’t know what is.

Because of the heatwave, stadium timings have been extended – this is a public facility, remember – but…

Over the past few months, athletes and coaches at the Delhi government-run Thyagraj Stadium have been complaining about being forced to wrap training earlier than usual, by 7 pm. The reason, according to them, is this: Delhi’s Principal Secretary (Revenue) Sanjeev Khirwar walks his dog at the facility about half-an-hour later.

Mr. Khirwar denied this.

Of course he did.

When Khirwar, a 1994-bath IAS officer was asked to comment on the matter, he said that the suggestions were ‘absolutely incorrect’. While he did admit to having taken his dog for walks inside the stadium premises at times, the claim that these activities led to disruption of training at the stadium is wrong.

“I would never ask an athlete to leave the stadium that belongs to them. Even if I visit, I go after the stadium is supposed to close…We don’t leave him (the pet) 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,” he said.

As per a report in Indian Express, the guards at the stadium had started to blow whistles by 6:30 PM to ensure that the venue gets cleared by 7 pm.

Anyway, his excuse of “If it’s something objectionable (yes, is the answer) I will stop it” cut little ice with the powers that be, and both Mr. Khirwar and his wife, who is also a civil servant, were sent out of Delhi.

Now THIS is where I find the story less funny, because these two were sent to Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh respectively, 2 of the most fabulous states in the country, full of charming, polite, totally unaggressive people…they were sent there since those 2 states + Delhi form a political cadre, but it seems highly unfair that Ladakh & Arunachal are regarded as punishment postings. The wonderful people of these 2 states deserve better.

In an ideal world, these 2 would’ve been shipped off to some remote, internet-less, hardship post where they could sit and cogitate on their high-handed behaviour.

As it is they are both being “punished” by being sent to stunning parts of the country.

Leh, the capital of Ladakh, even has a brand new outdoor stadium…which leads me nicely to the dog.

Bless him, he was trending on Twitter for a while, as people wondered where he’d end up – my guess is Leh, with that lovely stadium…

Hats off to the Delhi government for moving so quickly on this, after the Indian Express broke the story.

One day, India will have guards and security staff who are empowered enough to refuse to kowtow to bureaucrats like these two – that day is still a long way off – but at least parents and coaches and athletes spoke out.

It amused us all no end for a few days 🙂

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