Shortly after images and news of the incident, reported first by TOI on September 18, spread like wildfire, the UP government suspended the sports officer of Saharanpur, Animesh Saxena, and ordered an inquiry against him. The contractor, who was given responsibility for cooking the food and serving it to the players, was blacklisted.
The incident drew sharp condemnation from several politicians, including BJP’s Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal among a host of others. Union sports minister Anurag Thakur said he has directed “strict action” in the matter.
Varun slams system, says nation shamed
Varun Gandhi tweeted, “Is the success of Indian sportspersons despite the system rather than due to it? This constantly disrespectful behaviour is a great shame for our nation.”
Delhi CM Kejriwal said, “If this is how we treat our sportspersons, how will India win Olympic golds? How will India become number 1 in sports?”
The viral video showed athletes who took part in the sub-junior girls’ kabaddi tournament at Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Stadium in Saharanpur being served rice from a plate on the floor of a toilet. The sports department had organised the tournament at the stadium from September 16 to 18. Over 200 players from 17 teams across 16 divisions of the state took part in the competition.
Additional chief secretary (sports) Navneet Sehgal said, “The probe into the matter has been handed over to the district magistrate of Saharanpur. A special adverse entry will also be made against the staff engaged in serving the food.”
He added, “Any type of laxity in providing facilities to players will not be tolerated. Instructions have been issued to all district sports officers in this regard.”
Deputy director of the UP sports department, RP Singh, has been nominated as the inquiry officer for the disciplinary proceedings instituted against suspended sports officer Saxena. Singh has been instructed to complete the inquiry within a month and submit a report.
Meanwhile, DM Akhilesh Singh claimed that the district sports officer “did not inform” the administration about the state-level tournament.