Disabled athletes protest over neglect by Sports Ministry

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New Delhi, Aug 11 (ANI): Hundreds of disabled athletes and activists from all over the country gathered outside the residence of Sports Minister M.S Singh Gill to express their anger over the neglect of sporting events for the differently abled persons.

The protest was held under the banner of Disabled Rights Group (DRG) and led by its convener Javed Abidi.

Abidi said that out of the 15 disability sports in the 19th Commonwealth Games, India is not participating in two, because the Sports Ministry will not pay for the equipment and facilities for the athletes.

"The point we are trying to establish is that as many as 15 events in the Commonwealth Games have to do with disability sports. Now, two things, one is for these 15 competitions, there are some 3,000 to 4,000 disabled athletes who are going to come from different corners of the world. How prepared are we for them? Are we going to cage them inside the Games Village and say, well look, you stay inside the village, the village is accessible, the stadiums are accessible. What about the rest of Delhi?" said Abidi.

"There were as many as 13 crore rupees that were earmarked for Disability Sports vis-a vis Commonwealth Games; five crores in 2008-2009, five crores in 2009-2010 and three crores in 2010-2011. As we speak, out of the 13 crores, barely about five crores have been spent," he added.

After missed deadlines and corruption charges, the Sports Minister is now facing another challenge as a whopping 45 medals are entitled to be won in this category.

Under the law, India's disabled are entitled to a host of rights. The Disabilities Act of 1995 says three percent of government jobs and three percent of seats in educational institutions should be reserved for the disabled.

The law also says public transport, including trains, buses and aircraft, should provide easy access to the disabled; sound signals should be installed at traffic lights; and pavements should be made wheelchair accessible. (ANI)

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