In another example of classic ‘babudome’ in India, four women hockey players Deep Grace Ekka, Namita Toppo, Sunita Lakra and Lilima Minz from Odisha were made to sit on the train floor while returning home from Rio Olympics while the other officials travelled in the business class bogey. Women activists have called on Sports minister Vijay Goel and demanded a probe into the incident. The women players were denied seat in the train and ironically all four of them are railway employees.
The players were travelling from Ranchi to Rourkela on the Dhanbad-Allepey Express where Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE) was unable to confirm their tickets and provide them births in the bogey.
A Deccan Chronicle report quoted Sunita Lakra saying, “We asked the TTE to allot berths to us but he denied. After travelling for about an hour, we got seats.”
These women represented the country after almost 36 years at the Olympic Games.
Brinda Adige, a woman activist said in an interview with ANI, “These ‘Babus’ (officials) have no reason at all to be there, they have not contributed in anyway, neither in advising the team nor in seeing to the teams well being, and are travelling in business class, whereas they have made the players travel unreserved, some travelled sitting on the floor of their train.”
“How can this kind of injustice be tolerated? Why haven’t these officials been thrown out of the train?” she asked.
“I am sure funds were allocated, it was the carelessness and apathy of the officials who have been indifferent to the players assuming that players are their gulams (slaves). And these people continue in this feudal fashion because they are babus and officials; they can travel in first-class and have the best luxury, whereas the real players are being treated so badly. I would also like the department to suspend them. They are not worthy of taking care of the players,” she added.
Nirmala Sawant, another activist, said, “I think this is very shameful for us as Indian citizens, and at the same time, Olympics participants bring pride to the nation. It is quite depressing, and I think, the Railway Minister (Suresh Prabhu) should take immediate action so that this kind of injustice is not caused to any sportsperson.”
Where India is celebrating the success of Olympic winners like PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik, the other Olympians are being treated in a derogatory manner by the sports officials.
Behind the glitter of India’s success in Rio Olympics, lies the dark tale of neglect and disdain by the authorities towards athletes in India.