Indian media criticise 'unfair' decision against boxer Sarita Devi

Sarita Devi (right) refused to take her bronze medal on Wednesday Image copyright AFP
Image caption Sarita Devi (right) refused to take her bronze medal on Wednesday

Media praise Indian boxer MC Mary Kom's gold-medal win at the Asian Games in South Korea, but feel her team-mate Sarita Devi lost out due to "unfair" decisions during her bout.

It was a day of mixed emotions for India as Sarita Devi refused to accept her bronze medal in protest against her controversial defeat in the semi-final a day earlier.

"A day after biased judging robbed Sarita Devi of victory and a shot at gold, the inconsolable boxer refused to accept her bronze medal... and instead presented it to her South Korean opponent," says the Hindustan Times.

Some papers feel Sarita Devi was a "clear winner" in her lightweight (57-60kg) semi-final bout against South Korean Park Ji-Na on Wednesday.

The Indian Express says: "Sarita appeared to be a clear winner in the bout... dominating the proceedings with such ferocity that Park barely managed to stand the assault. But much to the shock of the Indian contingent and the spectators, the judges awarded the bout to Park."

A report on the Mint website says the controversial result has been "widely condemned as unfair and biased towards the host country".

The International Boxing Association has started disciplinary action against Sarita Devi for refusing to accept her medal, reports say.

Papers add that her "outburst of emotions" on the podium dimmed the celebration of Mary Kom's victory.

The Mint adds that "it was a day of tears in the boxing arena at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. Some happy, some sad".

However, papers feel that Mary Kom's victory in the flyweight (51 kg) category finals is a significant achievement.

The First Post website said she created history by becoming the first Indian woman boxer to clinch a gold medal in the Asian Games.

"An inspiration to not just Indians but millions of women across the globe with her stupendous feats, the five-time world champion won a scrappy flyweight (48-51 kg) duel by split decision against Kazakhstan's Zhaina Shekerbekova," writes the Deccan Herald.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mary Kom won the gold in the women's flyweight (48-51kg) category at the Asian Games on Wednesday

The Hindu says "the legend of Mary Kom has just got bigger".

For the Hindustan Times, the London Olympics bronze winner's "body language was positive" and she "had entered the ring to win".

'Clean India'

Meanwhile, media outlets are discussing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "clean India" campaign launched on the 145th birth anniversary of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

The PM says he is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's stress on cleanliness.

Mr Modi cancelled the public holiday on Thursday and urged his colleagues and government officials to take a pledge on cleaning the country.

"I will neither litter nor let others litter," the pledge reads and urges officers "to dedicate 100 hours a year towards keeping the environment clean," The Deccan Herald reports.

But some papers and experts are cautiously optimistic over the success of the campaign.

"One should view the possibilities of a 'clean India' with cautious optimism in the context of critical gaps in the existing national programme and its delivery… To make "Clean India" a success, it needs to become a bureaucratic priority in addition to a political priority," says The Indian Express.

The Tribune says the onus is on India's bureaucrats to make the drive a success.

"Many among the recalcitrant bureaucracy don't see it as a call, but an order on the launch of the Swachha Bharat Abhiyan (Clean Indian Campaign), another of the campaign-mode initiatives of a prime minister who likes to promise big… The call to streets is thus more about making an emotional appeal than serving a material purpose," says the paper.

The Pioneer hopes that "there will be no question marks on the substance and sustainability of this campaign, and that it will be taken to its logical conclusion".

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