Suspended PCI President Rajesh Tanwar Tomar is in Dubai this week attending a Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) meeting, and lobbying people associated with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to get the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) unsuspended. Tomar is at the meeting a a member of the APC.
In an interview with Gulf News, he said, “My purpose of coming here is to put out my view forward with the president and the other members. I want to tell them not to deprive our athletes of participation. […] There should be a committee who should look into this matter and let the process go on and help the athletes participate under the Indian banner. Nobody else but the team should go for events including the Rio Paralympics next year.”
Of the situation involving the National Para Athletics Championships in Ghaziabad which was a primary factor in the suspension of the PCI by the IPC, Rajesh was quoted as saying, “Yes, we were widely criticised for very badly organised event and there were no basic facilities. The secretary of Paralympic committee of India went there and approved of it. There was a lot of mud-slinging after that and unfortunately, for the third time in six years we have been banned and I agree it is a huge shame.”
At the same time, internal issues inside the PCI played a role in the decision by the IPC to suspend the organization. This turmoil was on full display on March 28, when the PCI announced 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, followed 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. Then on April 6, the PCI announced that they made the decision to suspend Tomar following a meeting of the Executive Committee held at Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore. They also stated they planned bring criminal and civil charges against Tomar related to his actions. Eleven days after this announcement, the IPC suspended the PCI.
Rajesh told Gulf News, “I’m sure Majed will support and take up our case with the governing body. I have already requested him to send an APC observer for the AGM which will be held in Delhi on May 15. So we do have support and there is solidarity towards us. Hopefully, everything will be cleared at the AGM.”
One of the current problems inside the PCI is regional factionalism. In the immediate fallout from the IPC announcement, ParaSport News was told by people with inside knowledge that the former PCI President Rajesh Tomar led Delhi faction had scheduled their AGM for May 18. The Bangalore and Sangwan factions led by Chandrashekar and PCI Acting President Nale Nandakishore Babu Rao had scheduled an AGM for May 17. The Gursharan faction had scheduled their AGM for May 16. These dates were new ones as the Rajesh led PCI had originally scheduled an AGM for May 18 in Delhi on March 28. On April 24, one AGM date appeared to have been agreed upon, this one on May 15 at 2:00 PM local time at the Raj Hans Hotel, Surajkund in Delhi.
According to the PCI, they had not had an Annual General Meeting since January 24 of last year. Because of the time between AGMs, the Indian government had announced prior to the suspension that they planned to stopped providing them with grant money around March. The lack of having a meeting also put them out of compliance with Indian law.
Rajesh went on to tell Gulf News that he would be asking India’s Minister of State of Defence Rao Inderjit Singh to take the Presidency of the PCI, “Rao Inderjit Singh has been associated with the Paralympic movement for quite a while and I’m going to request him to take over as president. I will associate with him as an executive president and have a new team under him.”
It is unclear if the fixes Rajesh promises will address concerns by the IPC. The PCI is one of the few National Paralympic Committees (NPC) to be organized around geographic areas as members of the NPC. Most countries are organized either around national disability sport organizations by disability, or national sport organizations by sport. Only one or two other countries follow the Indian model. In the case of Indian Olympic Association, this geographic model is a huge problem as it is violates the International Olympic Committee rules regarding how NOCs may be organized. There is nothing on the agenda of the PCI AGM to suggest such structural changes are even under consideration.
APC President Al Rashed was quoted by Gulf News as saying, “Yes, we are aware of what happened in India and we are in talks. I think it happens everywhere and in each board there can be misunderstanding and mismanagement. But I’m sure India will bounce back and will be back in the fold.”
Indian athletes are currently at the IBSA World Games in Seoul. Yesterday, Sonu Singh finished seventh in the Male Shotput F11 Final event. Kanchanmala Dnyaneshwar Pande finished fourth in the Female 200m Freestyle S11/S12 swimming event. Ankur Dhama finished sixth in the Male 1500m T11 athletics event. Amar Singh Nishad finished fourth in the Male 1500m T12. Ramkaran Singh finished eighth in the Male 1500m T13. Gaurav Singh finished third in a three deep competition in the Male Javelin F13. Avnil Kumar took part in the male 100m T13 final. The country is eligible to compete in the event because it is an IBSA, not IPC, sanctioned event. Visually impaired Indian athletes can use it to set qualifying times and scores for the 2016 Rio Games.