Disabled athletes protest, sports minister promises panel


New Delhi : Braving the scorching heat, national and international level disabled sportspersons Wednesday staged a protest in the capital against rampant mismanagement in disability sports in India.

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They also demanded better facilities since the Commonwealth Games are just five months away.

Sports Minister M.S. Gill promised to set up a committee to probe the protesters’ allegations, a representative of the disabled sportspersons who met him later told media persons.

National level table tennis player Suwarna Raj said the condition at the Commonwealth Games training camps for disabled players is so bad that she had to leave one midway in Gujarat.

“The basic living conditions in the camp were pathetic. But what was more disturbing is the quality of training that was imparted. The coaches that we had were inexperienced and one was not even qualified enough,” Raj told IANS.

Wheelchair bound but with steely confidence, Raj said she wrote to the sports ministry several times about the poor quality of training in the camps, but got no response.

“I have had to buy my table tennis bats when we should be supplied with the sports equipments. For the past two years, all that we have got are empty promises,” she rued.

Ranbir Singh, a national level disabled competitor in archery, said: “There is rampant corruption and mismanagement in disability sports in India.”

“Last year in November, I participated in the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) games in Bangalore and won two silver medals. However, I am yet to receive the cash prize,” Singh told IANS.

“Through an RTI, I found out that each player was supposed to get a daily allowance of Rs.500 for the 11 days in the camp. Not only did we not get that money, but also there were no sports kits and ceremonial dress that was listed,” he said.

Singh’s colleague Mohammad Asif added: “The Paralympics Committee of India (PCI) was allocated Rs.1,42,33,650 for the IWAS games but even basic facilities like ramps, accessible toilets were missing in the venue.”

According to the 40 players who had gathered for the protest, while there are 15 disability sports events in the Commonwealth Games, India will not be able to participate in at least four of them because of lack of equipments like racing wheelchairs.

Javed Abidi of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), who headed the protest, met Sports Minister M.S.Gill while the players stood outside the sports ministry in silent protest.

“The minister has told me that a high level committee comprising officials like Joe Sebastian will be formed and it will probe into the allegations levelled by the players,” Abidi said.

The players were, however, not very satisfied with the outcome.

“The Commonwealth Games are just five months away. When will the committee be formed, when will they submit their report and when will things change?” Raj asked.