21-year-old Rajvir Singh from Ludhiana's Siarh village lost his life on Wednesday, January 13, after battling for it, on ventilator support, for nearly a month.
The Indian Express reported that Singh had been suffering from an intellectual disability due to brain-related ailment.
Rajvir had won two gold medals in cycling at the 2015 Special Olympics in Los Angeles. Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh promised him support in a video posted on Twitter. However, in the last six years, he didn't receive his cash prize of Rs 30 lakh.
Reports have highlighted that the cyclist was taking up odd jobs to make ends meet — lifting stones and bricks as well as working as a caretaker at a shelter house for the differently-abled before the illness took over him.
Rajvir's father, Balbir Singh, a labourer was at loss for words on the state government's failure to honour his son's hard work and achievements.
"For five years after he won the two gold medals in 2015, we were only given promises. First the Badals, then Capt Amarinder Singh and Congress leaders such as Navjot Singh Sidhu, everyone promised to help and get my son's pending cash prize amount released but no one did anything.
Politicians and governments dishonoured my son's achievement. We ran from pillar to post — from CM's office to district administration offices in Ludhiana — but my son died without getting his due honour and prize money. The governments and politicians must remember that we were not begging or asking for any favour, it was my son's right," said the father.
Narrating the ordeal, Balbir said that his son was depressed on seeing his family struggle for necessities despite the achievements.
The paper reported that Rajvir was suffering from epilepsy since childhood and had to undergo brain surgery in the past. On December 18, Rajvir's condition deteriorated and he was admitted to a hospital. Later, he was referred to another hospital where he succumbed to brain infection. His father, owing to financial constraints, had to take help from an NGO to finance his treatment.
After his Special Olympics medals, several promises for rewarding the champion was made by politicians. False promises have resulted in the country losing one of its gems.
"The policy to give cash prize to Special Olympics medalists is still pending for approval and awaiting notification. I will direct district sports officials in Ludhiana to see if we can help Rajvir's family in any other way for their financial needs," said Sports Director D P S Kharbanda.
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