New Delhi: Highlighting the discrimination faced by disabled athletes, an NGO has alleged that country`s top handicapped swimmers have been asked by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) to find individual sponsors to participate in this month`s World Championship in Holland.
The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) has shot off a letter to Sports Minister M S Gill, informing him about the continued disparity faced by disabled athletes at the hands of corrupt sporting bodies like PCI.
In the letter, NCPEDP director Javed Abidi has asked the Sports Minister to sack coach V K Dabas and C V Raghunath, an administrator of PCI who is proposed as team leader, with immediate effect before the start of the event from August 15 in Eindhoven, Holland.
Four disabled swimmers -- Prasanta Karmakar, Sharath M Gayakwad, Raghvendra Anavekar and Vinodh Kmar Singh – had qualified for this year`s International Paralympics Committee (IPC) Swimming World Championship.
This was the first time ever that a contingent of four Indian paralympic swimmers has made it to the world event.
"The team is supposed to go on August 12 in order for them to reach Netherlands on August 13 August. With less than a week remaining, till today the players have not been told if they`ll be able to go or not. Neither have their funds been sanctioned nor their visas arranged," the NCPEDP wrote.
"Paralympics Committee of India once again has washed its hands off the matter. When asked, they say that they have submitted the proposal to the Sports Ministry and have not heard from them. They are also now saying that if the swimmers want to participate in the World Championships, they will have to fund the tour themselves," it read.
"It is but obvious that none of these four players are training with, or for that matter would want to train with, Dr V K Dabas. Then why is Dabas`s name being proposed by PCI as coach for this prestigious championship.
"C V Raghunath, who is the administrator of PCI has been proposed as the team leader. Raghunath is neither disabled, nor a swimmer, nor does he have anything to do with swimming. Then on what basis was he appointed as the `Team Leader`?" the letter questioned.
The World Championships is one of the most important international sporting event for disabled swimmers and performances in the tournament will affect the world rankings of the athletes.
The performance at the World Championships will also have a bearing on the Indian swimmers qualification for 2012 London Paralympics.