January 16, 2021 12:27:35 am
Two days after a Special Olympics double gold medallist died of illness in extreme penury waiting for a Rs 30 lakh cash reward promised by the then SAD-BJP government in 2015, the Congress dispensation in Punjab Friday announced Rs 5 lakh financial assistance for the family.
The announcement by Punjab Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Sodhi came on the day The Indian Express highlighted the plight of Rajvir Singh. The 21-year-old intellectually disabled Ludhiana youth had won two gold medals in cycling at Special Olympics in 2015 held at Los Angeles. He died due to brain-related ailment at the Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) Wednesday after being on ventilator support for nearly a month.
In a statement, Sodhi said that senior officials of the department have been asked to hand over the financial assistance to Rajvir’s family.
The minister said that Rajvir was deprived of Rs 30 lakh promised by the then SAD-BJP government in 2015. In July last year, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, in a video message, had said that his government will help Rajvir and other Special Olympians waiting for their cash rewards. Sports officials revealed that till now Punjab has not notified any policy to release pending cash rewards of Special Olympics medal winners.
Rajvir’s father Balbir Singh, who works as a labourer, reacting to government’s financial assistance announcement, said, “Eh paise saade layi hun kaagaz han. Mera munda taan chala gaya. Pehlan de dinde taan shayad bacha lainda main apne putt nu (This money is now piece of paper for us. My son is dead. Had they given this money earlier, I might have saved my son)”.
Meanwhile, the opposition Aam Aadmi Party held the CM and sports minister responsible for Rajvir’s death.
In a joint statement, AAP Punjab co-incharge Raghav Chadha and Punjab Youth Wing president Meet Hayer said that due to the wrong policies of the Amarinder Singh government, the life of a promising player is lost. “Despite being born in a poor family and not mentally well, Rajvir earned honor for the country and Punjab by securing two gold medals in the Special Olympics. Captain Amarinder promised to help Rajvir, but it never came,” they said, adding the CM “has misled the players by announcing several policies, but doing nothing in reality”.
For Rajvir not not getting timely help, “the Captain government should immediately sack Sports Minister Rana Sodhi,” they added.
The leaders said that the Punjab government should declare a financial assistance policy for the players with special needs by creating a policy.
“For the players with special needs, reservation in jobs should be given with proper implementation,” they said.
The cost of Rajvir’s treatment was raised by ‘Manukhta Di Sewa’ — a shelter home for the elderly and differently-abled.
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