The prestigious Delhi Golf Club has been caught up in a controversy over the denial of entry to 17 golfers in the last few months. According to this group of men, their entry was stopped by the new General Committee of the club after it came to power last year. As of now, both the aggrieved golfers and the club are presenting diametrically-opposed sides of the story.
What the golfers say?
Speaking to International Business Times, India, Bharat Sharma, one of the 17 men barred from the club presented his case.
"The Ministry of Urban Development has given us the right to play and practice on the golf course. This is to promote the sport among underprivileged people. But, since the new committee came to power, they have been telling us 'This club is for members only. You can go anywhere you want.'
"There was no issue till 2016. It was only after that the problems started to emerge. Members of the new committee told us even before the elections that if we come to power, we will kick you out. They are also spreading wrong rumours about us to malign our image," Sharma said.
This group of 17 players includes 2010 Asian Games silver medallist Rashid Khan. He too expressed similar grievances while talking to IBT.
"I have been playing at the Delhi Golf Course for the last 20 years. It is only after the new committee came to power that we began facing these problems. There is prejudice against us as we come from middle-class families whereas most of the members belong to the elite class."
When asked whether he has sought the help of other senior golfers in the country, Khan said: "Yes, a lot of golfers have been contacted by us and they have tried to help but it is really tough for them to do much."
Delhi Golf Club's defends itself
When IBT reached out to the officials of the club for a response, there was a categorical denial of the allegations as well as a few allegations from the club's side against the 17 men.
"They've been trying this for a long time. Many of these men pose as caddies but they have never caddied in their lives. This is a private club on property leased by the government where entry isn't open to all. Many of them were here without permission and creating ruckus for the members," Rohit Sabherwal, the captain of the club said.
"It was the Board of Governors who took the decision to ban these people from the club on grounds of indiscipline and being here without permission....They have also been engaging in anti-club activities and talking against the club officials," Sabherwal added.
He also denied the claim by the golfers that there is an order of the Ministry of Urban Development, allowing these golfers to play on the Delhi Golf Club premises. "Show us the order if one exists," he said.
Sabherwal went further to accuse these men of being rowdy and Rashid of being ungrateful to the institution. "Rashid Khan's roots lie here. He was brought up as a golfer, helped, nurtured, provided for by the club. All the other men are goondas and are trying to ride on his back."
When asked to mention examples of rowdiness from the group of golfers in question, he gave some examples. "Rashid Khan once slapped a guard when the latter merely asked him to park the car elsewhere as he didn't have the club sticker. These people even stopped my car and prevented the president of the club from leaving once."
IBT asked Rashid about the slapping incident. He presented a slightly different account. "I had been parking my car at the same place for years. But on that day, the guard tried to prevent me and he was the one who raised his hands first, I merely acted in self-defence. If they have proof that I was guilty, why don't they show it," Rashid said in response.
So, both sides are firm on their stand. Only time will tell who gets the upper hand.