Skip to main content

Mission Rio16: Gujarat NGO to file PIL against official apathy to Deaflympics wrestling gold medallist

By Our Representative
Top Gujarat-based cultural NGO Drishti, which takes up social issues to fight for the underprivileged through digital visual media, has declared that it will file a public interest litigation (PIL) in Delhi High Court against official indifference towards Virender Singh, the deaf wrestler who won gold medal at the Deaflympics in Sofia, Bulgaria, in August 2013 in the men’s 74 kg freestyle event. He won the coveted medal defeating Oguz Donder of Turkey. The announcement came at the film release ceremony of 58-minute documentary, produced by Drishti, on the top wrestler, who has received no official help so far.
Addressing the audience at Natarani theatre, where it was screened, directors Mit Jani, Prateek Gupta and Vivek Chaudhary said, during an earlier meeting with Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had promised Singh would would be awarded Rs 5 crore by the state government in case he won a medal at Sofia, in accordance with the norm for other "normal" athletes. "However, nothing has happened thereafter. After he won the medal, all that Hooda has been saying is, Singh will be rewarded in accordance with the existing rules. We are keeping our fingers crossed", the directors asserted.
"Our mission s to fulfill Singh's dream to make it to the forthcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016. We call it Mission Rio16", the directors said. "We are fighting against Indian official norms which do not support a deaf athlete to go Olympics. This is against Olympic rules, where there is no such restriction." The film cites several differently abled athletes from other countries who have won medals, including gold, at Olympics. "Here is a man who is capable of fighting for India, but officials are indifference. In fact, he was about to be eased out of Sofia Deaflympics due to an internal fight", they added.
The film reveals that Singh was trained with Olympic silver medallist Sushil Kumar and bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, and quotes his coach as saying that he is "equal to them". Sushil Kumar, who agrees to the view, has also been shown as regretting poor treatment meted out to the athlete by the officialdom, which is quoted as saying that Singh cannot participate in normal Olympics as "he cannot listen to the whistle, which is the key to starting the game... There are fixed norms for awarding athletes, and if he fits into those norms, he will be paid", one official tells the filmmakers.
A farmer's son belonging to rural Haryana, Singh -- who is popularly called "goonga pehelwan" -- had won medals at previous special Olympics, too. Aged 31, he won India’s first and only gold medal at the 2005 Deaflympics in Melbourne, Australia and added a silver medal at the World Deaf Wrestling Championship, 2008 in Yerevan, Armenia. Even then, he was denied permission to go to the Beijing Olympics in 2008 or London Olympics in 2012. Singh, present at the film release ceremony, was shown as telling the filmmakers in sign language that he feels neglected at the Chhatrasal Stadium, Delhi, where he trains himself.
"While other competing normal athletes live comfortably in separate rooms, I must live with others and in a room that stinks. If normal athletes are allowed home food, I am not. They get huge help from the government, I get nothing", he asserts, even as he is shown collecting "charity money" -- Rs 10 to Rs 100 notes -- from the rural folk in Haryana after winning dangal -- the traditional Indian mud wrestling. "This was terrible... How could such a major athlete be treated like this?", someone commented during an audience interaction that followed screening.

Comments

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…