Government cracks whip over  Paralympic controversy

By Rahul Rawat

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In a strong message sent out to officials of the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI), the sports ministry has show-caused the federation following complaints from the Indian athletes competing at the London Games.

Mail Today had reported on August 29 that the PCI officials were residing inside the Games Village keeping coaches and escorts of the para athletes out, which affected the performance of some of the athletes.

The government has taken note of the complaints and has asked PCI to reply within 15 days, failing which the ministry will take strict action against the federation.

Powerlifter Farman Basha was one of the para athletes whose performances were affected in the absence of their coaches and escorts

Powerlifter Farman Basha was one of the para athletes whose performances were affected in the absence of their coaches and escorts

Reacting to the Mail Today report, sports minister Ajay Maken had earlier promised that the government will look into the matter on an urgent basis and appropriate action will be taken against the PCI officials.

'PCI is called upon to explain as to why the government should not take up the case of PCI for suspension/withdrawal of recognition as per Clause 8 and 10 of Annexure-III of Scheme of Assistance to NSFs,' the ministry said in its show cause notice.

'The PCI is directed to submit, within 15 days from the date of receipt of this show cause notice, a detailed reply failing which it would be presumed they have no submission to make and action will be taken ex-parte,' the notice added.

Farman Basha, who competed in the powerlifting event in London, had complained about the indifference the athletes were subjected to by the PCI officials during the Paralympics, which get over on Sunday.

'Farman Basha, who is an Arjuna Awardee and one of the most senior players in the Indian team, has reported that PCI's officials were staying inside the Games Village and using the free facilities meant for athletes and their support staff,' the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

'His escort Mrs Antonia and personal coach Sadanand Malashetti were not allowed to enter the Games Village despite having the permit. According to him, the absence of the escort and his coach affected his performance," it added.

Discus thrower Amit Kumar Saroha's coach was also left out

Discus thrower Amit Kumar Saroha's coach was also left out

The ministry has also released the list of 10 coaches and escorts who were not given accreditation for the Games Village.

The coaches were left to use public transport to travel to the training venues where their athletes were training as the shuttle service was from inside the Games Village.

A day before the London Games were set to kick off, Farman, who finished fourth at the Beijing Paralympics and won a silver at the Guangzhou Para Asian Games, had told Mail Today about how he had lost all hopes of a medal after a poor training stint in London.

'I don't think I have a chance to win a medal. Before I arrived here in London, I was doing really well with lifts of 166kg but with my coach and escort not around all hopes of winning a medal are gone,' Farman had said.

PCI secretary general Rathan Singh and other federation officials, including his son Amar Singh who is also the vice-president of the body, were sharing accommodation at the Village while most of the coaches and escorts were left out.

The ministry has also sought replies as to why the sanctioned allowances for the athletes were not disbursed on time and why did the federation pay no heed to the requests for accreditation for the Indian High Commission in London.

After a long period during which the PCI remained suspended, it was only late last year that it was granted recognition by the ministry, paving the way for the para athletes to feature in international competitions.

However, the federation does not seem to care about the performance of the para athletes, who were left in the lurch at the grandest stage for them.

 


 

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