The Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) announced earlier today that yesterday, they had suspended five members for misappropriation of funds. These members include PCI Vice-President Shri Nale Nand Kishore, PCI Joint Secretary Shri M. Madhusa Srinivasa Rao, Executive Member Satyanarayana, and members Shri Narayanan T. and Dr. Rajesh Lamechwal. These suspensions were effective immediately. It follows an investigation initiated in September of last year that was handled by a retired member of the High Court of Delhi, Honorable Mr. Justice J.K. Mehra.
According to the PCI, the people doing the misappropriation were “attempting to sabotage the National pride and prestige of our country in the eyes of the International community towards the holding of the 1st Indian Open Para-Games 2015, New Delhi.” These games are scheduled to get underway on May 2 and run until May 9.
Other issues are also at play. According to the PCI, they have not had an Annual General Meeting since January 24 of last year. Because of the time between AGMs, the Indian government has stopped providing them with grant money. As a result, the PCI has scheduled an AGM for May 18 in Delhi.
Paralympic sport governance in India is facing increased scrutiny this month following the Indian National Para-Athletics Championships and documented reports by The Times of India of deplorable conditions for the 600 plus participating competitors that included sleeping on the floor, unsanitary conditions, awful and wheelchair inaccessible toilets, accessible to drinkable water, price gouging on food by local vendors after failure of organizers to provide access to safe food for athletes. A report was due to the PCI on Thursday about what resulted in this situation. The results of this investigation have yet to be made public.
Yesterday at a press conference, the Civilian Welfare Foundation asked the the government of West Bengal to investigate the situation at the athletics championship. During this press conference, Founder-Director of Sruti Disability Rights Centre Shampa Sengupta said, “”Under these awful conditions the national para-games should not be held, we have prepared a charter of demands which will be handed over to the committee if they accept to abide by the terms and conditions, only then will we send our athletes.”