Overcoming personal limitations,they have represented India at the international stage and won laurels for their country. Back home,most of these paralympians from the state are living in abject poverty and are staring at the ignominy of anonymity thanks to the indifferent attitude of the state government.
Take the example of Panchami Burman. Hailing from a poor family in East Midnapore and despite being mentally challenged,she went on to win gold in floor hockey at the Seoul Olympics this year. Her father is a daily wage labourer,earning around Rs 2,500 a month.
She has four siblings three sisters and a brother. She had been felicitated and honoured at functions after she returned,but there is no infrastructure for sportspersons like her. She doesnt have any proper place to practice, said Joydeb Adhikary,sports instructor of the school.
Another example is Saheb Hossain from Kankinara in North 24-Parganas. He won gold and two silver at the Para Athletics National Championship in Harayana.
My father is a retired jute mill worker and I have not have been able to earn enough for my meals. Asking for better equipment and place of practice almost sounds preposterous, he said.
Baisakhi Deb was a state-level badminton champion. She lost one of his legs and was a third degree amputee. Given an opportunity,she said she can prove to be an asset at para-badminton.
There is,however,a ray of hope for these paralympians.
Civilian Welfare Foundation (CWF) is working towards giving recognition to these bravehearts. A walk for paralympics has been organised in Kolkata on August 28.
The intention is to create awareness on Paralympics and showcase these athletes achievements.
Another reason is that Para-triathlon as a discipline will be introduced for the first time in the 2016 Olympics. Our athletes will get two years to practice before they attempt and even hope to qualify, said Shuvojit Moulik,president,CWF.