India is a class apart in the way it treats its sportspersons (read my sarcasm here), irrespective of their glorious performances. Be it detaining shooters for 12 hours at the airport while returning from the Grand Prix or the Indian women’s hockey team on their way back from Rio Olympics being forced to sit on the floor of the Bokaro-Alleppey Express Train, sportspersons here often get the short shrift.
The latest such case pertains to that of para-athlete Suvarna Raj who was forced to sleep on the floor of a train she was travelling in.
According to an NDTV report, Raj was travelling by the Nagpur-Nizamuddin Garib Rath Express and was allotted an upper berth. The 34-year-old wheelchair-bound athlete was denied a lower berth, despite repeated requests.
The para athlete was left with no option but to sleep on the floor of the train on Saturday (June 10).
The brazen apathy of the fellow passengers was the worst part. No one came forward to exchange their seat with Raj, letting the disabled woman sleep on the floor.
Following the incident, the twitterati posted several pictures of the para-athlete facing problems in a wheelchair inside the train.
@sureshpprabhu Ms @suvarnapraj Int'l #ParaAthlete traveling NGP-NZM in #GareebRath,but @RailMinIndia alloted upper berth to wheelchair bound pic.twitter.com/dQSjOqWSOZ
— Pradeep Raj (@PRdisabledpower) June 10, 2017
“When I asked fellow passengers to exchange seat with me, they refused bluntly,” added the disability rights activist. In an interview to news agency ANI, she said, “I want to meet Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu and tell him about the problems we have to face while travelling in trains.”
Want to meet Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu & tell him about the problems we have to face while travelling in trains :Suvarna Raj, para-athlete pic.twitter.com/HLiDxs6glo
— ANI (@ANI_news) June 11, 2017
It’s a shame that the railways had completely ignored such major criteria when it’s needed the most. In order to dig deep into the matter, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has ordered an inquiry into the way Raj was treated. The minister has promised to accompany her on a train journey to understand the issues faced by differently-abled passengers.
Have ordered enquiry in the issue.We are serious about ensuring smooth travel for Divyangs https://t.co/DWoHTRMnrQ
— Suresh Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu) June 11, 2017
The 34-year-old Raj then replied, “I don’t want any inquiry, I want permanent solution for persons with disabilities.”
Raj was very young when a polio infection struck, hampering her ability to walk, making her 90 per cent disabled. But she soldiered on and achieved her dreams.
The star has represented India in para table tennis tournaments and won two medals at the Thailand Para Table Tennis Open in 2013. The para-athlete is also an activist and recently represented Yogendra Yadav’s party Swaraj India in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi elections, contesting from the Babarpur ward in North-east Delhi. She is also a part of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment’s ‘Accessible India Campaign’, which works to achieve global accessibility for people with disabilites.
The nation is disappointed!
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Feature Image Credit : Hindustan Timesd
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