Internet Desk: Indian para-swimmers where severely humiliated when they had borrow money so that they could participate in the recently held 2017 World Para Swimming World Series in Berlin as the money was not sanctioned by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI)
Kanchanmala Pande, a blind swimmer of the S11 category expressed her experience to be a ‘’Horror Show” when she had to arrange money to participate in the tournament.
“I never thought I would face such problems. I had to take a loan of Rs 5 lakh so that I could participate in the tournament,” she told the media.
It was reported that the coach Kanwaljeet Singh who accompanied them for the tournaments, demanded a sum of £90 (Rs 7,462) as participation fee and apparently disappeared during the events.
“He [Singh] didn’t help me at all. I used to go back to the hotel just with my escort and god knows where he used to be. Once, I took a tram from the tournament venue to my hotel and I had no money. I had to travel without ticket and was caught by the checker who later fined me £120 [Rs 10,000],” she said.
Olympic goal winner Abhinav Bindra expressed his displeasure on social media. He took to Twitter and questioned about the treatment which the swimmers faced during the tournament.
Sheer callousness was again brought to light when it was reported that the PCI enlisted her to the event 50m Backstroke, which unfortunately was not her event.
Despite facing such harassment, Pande won a silver medal in the 200m Individual Medley and beat the qualifying mark in 100m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke and 100m Breaststroke.
The vice-president of PCI Gurucharan Singh put the entire blame on the Sports Authority of India (SAI) claiming the sanctioned amount were not received by them and as a result they were unable to ‘provide it to the swimmers.’
“We feel sad that this kind of incident had happened, it should not happen again. We regret that this incident had happened. We will seek a report from the team manager and find out how this had happened,” Gursharan said.
“The sanctioned amount from SAI came five days before the departure of the athletes but we could withdraw the money as it needs the approval of the Chairman of Committee appointed by the Delhi High Court. He (Justice Retd. Kailash Gambhir) was not available to clear the funds.
“So, we told the athletes not to take part in Berlin or go on their own and compensate later. The team went on their own and I am hearing about this incident. We have asked for a report about what happened in Berlin from team leader Kamaljit Singh,” said Gursharan from London, where an Indian team is taking part in the World Para Athletics Championships.
“This is UNACCEPTABLE. People must be held accountable,” Bindra wrote on his Twitter handle. He also tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sports Minister Vijay Goel in his tweet. Mr Goel later replied that the money was released and he is currently investing the issue.