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Amendments in Haryana sports policy is retrograde move, violates Right to Equality, say para-athletes

The amendments in the sports policy state that the Paralympic medalists and Para Asian Games gold medalists will be given Group B job as compared to Group A jobs offered to Olympics medalists and Asian Games medalists, besides introducing differential treatment in other categories too.

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh |
February 18, 2021 12:15:12 pm
Para athletes, HaryanaPara-athletes Deepa Malik and Ekta Bhyan (Right).

Days after Haryana government made new amendments to its sports policy and rules for offering sportspersons jobs at Haryana Sports department, the para-athlete from Haryana, including Rio Paralympics silver medallist Deepa Malik, two-time World Para Championships silver medallist and three-time Asian Para Games medallist Amit Saroha, 2018 Asian Para Games gold medallist Ekta Bhyan and other para players have said that the new amendments in policy are in complete violations of constitutional right to equality and RPWD Act, 2016, that ensure inclusion and eliminates discrimination on the basis of physical disabilities.

The amendments in the sports policy state that the Paralympic medalists and Para Asian Games gold medalists will be given Group B job as compared to Group A jobs offered to Olympics medalists and Asian Games medalists, besides introducing differential treatment in other categories too.

“My mission has always been to aim for parity and inclusion of para athletes, as the able-bodied players and para players should be given equal opportunity in each field. The United Nations , along with International Olympics Committee too, have stated that Paralympics logo will be the same as Olympics apart from venues and medals and other formalities. Our Honourable PM Narender Modi and Sports minister Kiren Rijuju too have stated that para athletes should be given the same treatment and the central policy treats all equally. I don’t know why Haryana, which has always been a pioneer in supporting para sports in the country has taken such a step to display preference towards able-bodied players/events?,” said Deepa Malik, who won the silver medal in the shotput F-53 event in Rio Paralympics.

The amendments also state that the players will be offered jobs in the sports department in various categories and will not be given HCS or HPS jobs like earlier. The new amendments state that Asian Para Games silver medalists will be offered category C jobs, while Asian Games medalists will be offered Group B jobs. Similarly there is no provision of job for national para games winners and Malik, who is also the president of Paralympic Committee of India, finds this step a retrograde. “Each player, who competes in any international event and wins medals, is doing so under the Indian flag and the achievement is no less than in any event for able-bodied athletes. Similarly, players who compete in para national games too deserve accolades and a job in any category will help them financially,” said Malik.

Under the amendments, there is also no job for Paralympics and Asian para games participants and no jobs for Commonwealth Para Games bronze medalists while Commonwealth Games bronze medalists are offered Group C jobs. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Para Games bronze medalists are to be given a stipend of Rs 10,000 monthly.

Haryana government has also reduced the age eligibility from 50 years to 42 years. “Today, we had a meeting of more than 80 para athletes at Rohtak and we will soon meet Haryana CM ML Khattar and sports minister Sandeep Singh regarding this matter. There have been instances of players winning medals at the age of 45 or more and the eligibility should be revised to the earlier limit of 50 years as per the earlier policy. It is for all the para athletes that we are asking for parity,” said Bhyan.

Saroha too finds this to be a retrograde step for para athletes. “Haryana has always taken the lead in supporting para athletes in the country and we hope this step is taken back,” said Saroha.

Haryana sports minister Sandeep Singh and Haryana sports director SS Phulia could not be contacted.

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