Disabled athletes demand govt jobs
Revathi Ramanan | TNN
Chennai: Twenty-five physically-challenged athletes from different districts of Tamil Nadu who have won accolades at both the national and international levels, staged a protest at the Anna Memorial demanding government jobs. The protest began on Monday but they were removed by the police and taken to a community hall in Royapettah.
“We were peacefully protesting when the police roughed us up and remanded us in custody without any judicial proceedings. They locked us inside the community hall for 24 hours without food or water and refused to let us interact with the media, saying we would create a ruckus. We want to meet the CM and present our demands to him,” said S Gurunathan, an international athlete, who suffers from polio. According to him, four of the 25 athletes had fainted due to exhaustion and were admitted to a hospital by the police. The police, however, denied remanding the athletes and locking them up. “How can we remand someone who has not committed any crime?” said G Tamilselvan, assistant commissioner at Triplicane police station. “We released them at 5pm on Monday but they insisted on staying here till their demands were met,” he said.
S Arun, another athlete, said they took the drastic step after trying unsuccessfully for years to get government jobs. “We sent letters to various government bodies, to the chief minister and to the sports development authorities, but got no reply,” he said. He claimed that most of the seats under the disabled quota were empty and should be given to them.
Gurunathan said that despite having won medals in national and international events, they had not received the prize money. “The government ought to give us our prize money. The least they can do is give us jobs, but even that is not happening,” he said.
“The state has 100 international physically challenged athletes, which is more than the number of international athletes in the state who are not disabled. The way they are being treated by the government is shameful,” said Dr K Nagaraj, sports trainer for the physically challenged. “The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu should spend 10% of money allocated to it for the benefit of the disabled,” he said. The protest ended after RS MP M K Kanimozhi came to the spot and promised to address their demands. She assured them that she would fix an appointment with the CM.