BHUBANESWAR: While the country is showering praise on its para-athletes for winning laurels in the ongoing Tokyo Paralympics, the Odisha government has allegedly yet not included these specially-abled sportspersons in its Direct Requirement Scheme for meritorious players.
Protesting the apathy and demanding equal rights, international para-athletes from the state staged a dharna in front of the Sports and Youth Services Department here on Tuesday.
With Odisha hosting international events and its chief minister leaving on stone unturned to promote sports, Bhubaneswar has turned into sports capital of the country. However, more than 30 para athletes, protesting under the banner of the Odisha Para Players Forum, accused the state government of meting out step-motherly treatment to them.
"Our members have won many national and international medals for the country and state. A para shuttler, Pramod Bhagat, from the state, who is world no 1 in his category, is competing in the Tokyo Paralympics. He is a strong medal contender," said OPPF Secretary Rakhel Kumar Sethy.
The sports department refuted the accusations. "The government has been committed to providing financial incentives and job opportunities to performing sportspersons and para-sportspersons," said Sports and Youth Services Department joint secretary through a release.
"The para-sportspersons have been availing the job opportunities under the 1% reservation for the sportspersons, whenever such recruitment process is undertaken for various departments and organisations. The demand of Para athletes is under active consideration of the government. In view of the physical norms criteria under Odisha Police, chief secretary had directed for examining whether the para-sportspersons can be considered for Group-C posts under various departments, instead of the police constable- level recruitment," read the statement.