It’s rare that differently-abled athletes come out in the open to criticise their federation. But on Thursday, led by national table tennis champion, Pradeep Raj, a group of paralympic sportspersons vent their ire on the Bangalore-based Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) calling it “corrupt and apathetic”.
A day after HT published stories highlighting the plight of differently-abled athletes, Raj said the PCI’s attitude towards sportspersons was “insulting”.
“The PCI members do not understand the needs of the disabled and do not pass on the funds to us,” said Raj, adding that camps are organised without equipment and qualified coaches. Javed Habib, director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for the Disabled, accused the PCI officials of colluding with the Sports Ministry and denying the sportspersons funds. “It’s not that the funds are not provided. We have records that show more than Rs 13 crore were given to the PCI in the last three years. Yet, India has withdrawn from four of the 15 events marked for the disabled in the Commonwealth Games. The reason they give is they don’t have funds to buy special wheelchairs used in some disciplines,” said Habib.
Abidi said he would give a 48-hour deadline to the ministry to suspend the PCI. “We have the legal option as well…such an attitude towards disabled athletes is outright cruel.”