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Disabled athletes to gherao Sports Minister's home

Angry at the continued apathy of the union sports minister towards sports for the disabled, hundreds of disabled athletes and activists from all over the country will protest outside the minister's residence in Delhi on Tuesday.

delhi Updated: Aug 10, 2010 00:33 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla

Angry at the continued apathy of the union sports minister towards sports for the disabled, hundreds of disabled athletes and activists from all over the country will protest outside the minister's residence in Delhi on Tuesday.

"Under the banner of Disabled Rights Group (DRG), the disabled athletes and disability activists will gherao the residence of M.S. Gill at Mother Teresa Road," said Javed Abidi, convener, Disabled Rights Group

The disability activists are demanding a detailed account of expenditure of the Rs 13 crore that was earmarked for sports for the disabled for the Commonwealth Games.

"Where has all the money gone? Why isn't proper coaching provided to our elite disabled athletes like Prashant Karmakar in swimming and Farman Basha in power lifting who really are our only medal hopes in the upcoming Commonwealth games?" questioned Abidi.

The activists for disabled rights are also unhappy with the treatment meted out to the disabled athletes by Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee. Of the six sportspersons appointed as brand ambassadors for the upcoming Games no disabled athlete was selected.

Sports for the disabled became an integral part of the Commonwealth Games when Melbourne hosted the games in 2006.

"When the Games take place in October, as many as 45 medals will be at stake in the disability sports. Medals won or lost will impact the nation's medal tally," said Abidi.

The Disabled Rights Group has written several letters to the union sports minister as well as the chairman Commonwealth OC to bring their attention towards the rights of the disabled athletes but have not received any response. "If the minister or his babus call the police to remove us, we will not move or court arrest. If the police want us to go, the only way that can happen is either by fulfilling our demands or by using force," he said.

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