Special Olympics Gold Medalist Pushes Wheelchairs To Make A Living
Rajbir Singh, 17, of Ludhiana, had won two gold medals for the country in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. He fought ‘below average intellectual and adaptive functioning’ to win the 1 km and 2 km cycling events.
In 2015, he was promised Rs 16 lakh by the Punjab government (then CM Prakash Singh Badal) but the boy’s father claims to have received just Rs 50,000 of that, and Rs 10 lakh given by the government in the form of bonds by the centre are yet to mature. Former CM Badal had also promised him an additional prize of Rs 1 lakh.
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s media advisor Raveen Thukral told The Times of India, “We are not aware of this case as it is from before we took charge of the government. However, we will do whatever is needed to help Punjab’s sportsmen, including Rajbir, once we get details.”
Rajbir’s father expressed his grief at the government’s failure to keep their end of the bargain.
“My son is obviously is special to me. He feels dejected due to the indifference of the authorities. No one should be made to feel like this,” he said. The family of presently resides in a nine by five feet tattered house.
The Olympian is forced to work with his father as daily wage earners to make ends meet. Once hailed as a hero, his fame proved to be short-lived.
In May, Gurpreet Singh, founder of NGO Manukhta Di Sewa, found out about Rajbir’s predicament and decided to help him. “When I saw him, I couldn’t believe my eyes. How can an Olympian can be humiliated like this? He was earning Rs 5,000 a month to support his family,” said Gurpreet.
Gurpreet took him to his NGO wing in village Baran Hara where Rajbir did sewa (work) of the elderly. Gurpreet gave him a cycle and took care of his medicines and diet. He then approached the local deputy commissioner but his requests were not paid heed to. Even Rajbir’s coach and sports authorities in Ludhiana turned deaf ears to his plight.
Rajbir is currently undergoing treatment for his impairment. He pushes wheelchairs and does odd jobs at the NGO to sustain life.
The Logical Indian community is appalled at the treatment of an Olympian by the government. India’s apathy towards sports, apart from a few mainstream ones like cricket, is not unknown. It is the need of the hour that the government encourages the youth and budding athletes of the country to represent India in an international forum. The ones who train with their blood and sweat for the nation do not deserve to work as daily wage earners and not pursue their passion.