Saharanpur/Lucknow (UP), Sep 20: Kabaddi players at a state-level tournament in Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur were allegedly served food from a toilet, prompting the authorities to suspend the district sports officer for laxity and blacklisting the caterer.
A purported video of the incident that surfaced on social media showed cooked food stored in the toilet at Saharanpur's Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Stadium from where kabaddi players took it themselves.
The state-level sub-junior girls' kabaddi tournament was held from September 16 to 18 in which over 300 players from 16 divisions of the state took part. The incident drew criticism, with ruling BJP's Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi asking if Indian sports should be cleansed of politicians and their representatives to reach its zenith.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too took a swipe at the incident, asking how Indian sportspersons would win gold at the Olympics if they are treated this way. Additional Chief Secretary (Sports) Navneet Sehgal told PTI that Saharanpur District Sports Officer Animesh Saxena was suspended on Monday. In a statement, Sehgal said, "The probe into the matter has been handed over to the district magistrate of Saharanpur. The cook and the caterer providing food to the players have been blacklisted. Instructions have been issued not to give any work to them in future."
Special adverse entry will be made against the staff who was engaged in serving food, he said. Apart from this, instructions have been issued to all district sports officers that any type of laxity in providing facilities to players will not be tolerated, he said in the statement.
District Magistrate Akhilesh Singh said Additional District Magistrate (Finance and Revenue) Rajnish Kumar Mishra will conduct the probe and submit a report in three days.
"The rice and 'pooris' were kept in a toilet. The video, which went viral on social media, showed the players taking the food kept inside the toilet," Singh said.
He added that it had also come to the administration's notice that the food was cooked near a swimming pool and only two cooks were engaged to prepare it for over 300 people. The food was then stored in the toilet, he added.
The "pooris" were spread on a piece of paper while rice was half-cooked. The players could not even get adequate food, the district magistrate said. Singh has directed the probe team to speak to the athletes, get the video clip and submit a report.
"The district sports officer did not inform the administration about the state-level tournament. If the administration had been informed, it would have given special attention to the competition," he added.
Commenting on the incident, BJP MP 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. Should Indian sport be cleansed of politics, politicians & their administrative representatives in order to reach its zenith."
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took a dig at the incident and tweeted, "If this is how we treat our sportspersons, how will India win Olympic golds? How will India become No.1 in sports?"