13 June, 2021

Laurels, Finally Rested

Vijender, now facing drug charges, built all on charm, and that one win

Reuters (From Outlook 15 April 2013)
Laurels, Finally Rested

He is 27 years old, six feet tall, weighs 72 kg; he’s the recipient of India’s fourth highest civilian award, Padmashri; and his annual income is pegged around Rs 3.5 crore. He’s married to a software engineer who worked in a foreign mission in Delhi. Fairy tales lie between book covers, with rare exceptions, like Vij­ender Singh, the son of a bus driver in Har­yana Roadways. Or so it was till last month, when a series of selective leaks by Punjab Police linked him to a heroin smu­ggling racket (see box) and threatened to undo his iconic status. As if on cue, headlines smirked: ‘From hero to heroin’.

It must have been painful for the boy from Bhiwani, whose wedding last year was attended by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and the BJP’s Shahnawaz Hussain.

Vijender’s “mass appeal, clean image and apo­litical affiliations” had prompted the Election Commission to draft him as a brand ambassador for the Haryana ele­ction in 2011. Roped in to endorse products for Nike, Nestle and others,...

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