Para-athlete Suvarna Raj alleges she was barred from national meet for complaining about poor facilities
Acclaimed international Paralympics player Suvarna Raj has alleged that she was removed from participating in the 18th National Para Athletics Championships at Panchkula after she complained about the sub-standard facilities for athletes.
About 2,500 para athletes from across India are taking part at the event. Apart from Suvarna, many para athletes had complained that the toilets were too narrow to accommodate wheelchairs. They said the rooms were in poor condition as well. Many of them have LPG cylinders, which has raised safety concerns.
Suvarna, who is a medal-winning Indian para-athlete, was vocal about the poor infrastructure. She had even tweeted about her plight to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sir now is 11:25 PM (yesterday), we two women with disabilities are standing on the road at Tau Devilal Stadium, Panchkula. There is no anyone from PCI (Paralympic Committee of India) to help us. We can't use the toilets here because toilets are not accessible, they people doing same and insulting us..., has been removed from the event - Suvarna Raj
After she complained, she was shifted to Kisan Bhavan in Panchkula by officials of the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI). Even here, the facilities were just barely better.
Suvarna's husband, Pradeep Raj, has alleged that a day after she complained, she was prevented from taking part. At the event venue, she was told that her classification had changed from 54 to 55. When Suvarna said she was willing to play under the new classification, PCI officials informed her that the events were already over.
Suvarna has returned to New Delhi since and is hoping to meet PM Modi to raise the issue. Her husband has alleged that para athletes routinely face this apathy from PCI officials.
This is not the first time that Paralympics Committee of India officials have neglected the needs of para athletes. What is surprising is that they don't bother setting up accessible facilities despite getting so much funding. Even the rooms where the athletes have been put up are in a pathetic condition - Pradeep Raj, Husband of Suvarna Raj, Para athlete
Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar has said that he will take action once he receives an official complaint. The Disability Commissioner of Haryana has met with Suvarna and promised to take tough action against PCI officials for the pathetic facilities.