Archers ‘forced to clean toilets, drink dirty water’ at UP sports hostel
More than 26 archers of national and international repute at the Uttar Pradesh government-run hostel at Sonbhadra in the Mirzapur district are “being forced to clean toilets, drink dirty water, mow the lawn and eat substandard food”.
The archers went on a three-day hunger strike and lodged a written complaint with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union Sports Minister, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore demanding action against the ‘wrongdoers’.
Normalcy returned to the hostel after senior district administration officials, including the commissioner, intervened on Monday, but soon after a posse of policemen reportedly raided the campus.
“The officials are forcing us to withdraw the complaint. On Monday, a good number of cops raided our hostel and warned us to withdraw the complaint,” said an archer on condition of anonymity.
The complaint letter, a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times, has been signed by 21 archers including six girls, blames sports officer Anil Tewari for their ‘woes’. The letter says that besides substandard food and poor-quality water, there is no refrigerator, room coolers, and no security in the girls’ hostel.
“We are forced to clean toilets and cut grass. When we brought this to the notice of Mr Tewari, we are threatened and even abused,” said another archer.
They also claimed that six archers left the hostel this year while two others were asked to leave after they protested. “We are also not being given equipment like target face and target stands,” he said.
As per the state government policy, Rs 250 is to be spent on daily diet, but at the Sonbhadra hostel, the players are getting Rs 145 per day. “Non-vegetarian food, milk, butter and fruits are not being given to us,” said another archer.
“As against the sanctioned kit, a lot of equipment is missing. Also, we are not allowed to participate in smaller events. A national-level archer, Shagufta Jamal, was not allowed to train for three months after she raised her voice against the atrocities,” the complaint reads.
Tewari said he had submitted his reply to ‘higher authorities’.
Regional sports officer Bhagwan Rai said that he had visited the hostel and found the menu not conforming to standards. Rai added that he had complained against Tewari on previous occasions but the sports directorate had turned a blind eye.
Director sports, RP Singh said an enquiry was being conducted. “Action will be taken against the guilty, if any,” he said.
State sports minister, Chetan Chauhan said he had no knowledge about the hunger strike by archers in Sonbhadra hostel but promised quick action.
“If the complaints are genuine, I am not going to spare the people concerned,” said Chauhan.