[Update: The article which was published at 6:00 PM was updated with latest information at 6:30 PM]
Our apathy to sports and athletes is not unknown to anyone. A few days back, state governments, politicians, and sports bodies were donating cash rewards, BMWs and lands to those who brought laurels to the country but we have completely forgotten to recognise efforts of other athletes who went there.
An incident which can be shocking in other countries but quite normal in ours, four members of the women’s hockey team were asked to seat on the floor of a train. They were all returning from Rio and were going to their native home in Odisha. This happened in Dhanbad-Allepey express when they were travelling from Ranchi to Rourkela, as TTE was unable to confirm their ticket.
Deep Grace Ekka, Namita Toppo, Sunita Lakra and Lilima Minz from Odisha were the four athletes who had to face such humiliation. This incident took place despite them being railway employees and therefore not requiring any tickets to be booked prior.
In an interview, Sundargarh sub-collector Himanshu Sekhar Behera said, “We will draw the attention of the railways about the incident. They should have been provided seats. It is the responsibility of the department to take care of them.”
Today, Indian railways tweeted and refuted the newspapers reports. The Railway Ministry said the hockey players went to the railway station from Ranchi airport and took the train on Saturday. The Railway authorities did not have any information about this, otherwise they would have been in a better position to make appropriate arrangements for the players.
“However, when the players boarded the train with unconfirmed tickets, the TTE took only 20 minutes to make seats available to them,” the Railways said.
It added that the hockey players hold no grudge against the Indian Railways and the same was communicated by them to the authorities.
“They also said that the players were in a hurry to meet their family members and hence preponed the plan which led to the confusion,” the statement said.
Every sportsperson regardless of whether they win or lose, deserve respect and the bias treatment to them highlight how we see our sportspersons whose performance don’t turn out to be medal-winning.