Athletes, coaches under scanner as girl ends life - Alternative Media Forum


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Thursday, 7 May 2015

Athletes, coaches under scanner as girl ends life

New Delhi(dna): The athletes' relatives alleged that the girls were being physically and mentally tortured by some seniors. However, the hostel warden denied the charges.

Police inspecting Sports Authority of India centre in Alappuzha, where a student died on Thursday, after she took poison along with three other students PTI
The tragic death of a promising 15-year-old athlete, who was one of the four sportspersons who tried to commit suicide at a Sports Authority Centre of India-run centre in Kerala's Alappuzha district on Thursday, not only shocked the nation but swivelled the needle of suspicion towards many known athletes and coaches.

The athletes' relatives alleged that the girls were being physically and mentally tortured by some seniors. However, the hostel warden denied the charges.

It is being alleged that some of the athletes, who were part of the Indian contingent in 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, are responsible for the incident. Also, the coach whose name has figured in the suicide note is a former athlete who has represented India at the Olympic Games. The Kerala police will initiate an inquiry based on the suicide notes of the four girls, three of whom are still battling for life.

The girls were suspected to have consumed a fruit, locally called 'othalanga' (cerbera odollam, commonly known as suicide tree) around 3 pm on Wednesday. They were rushed to a hospital around 7 pm after they fainted. Later, they were taken to Alappuzha Medical College, where one of them, Aparna Ramachandran, died. The girls were undergoing training at the Water Sports Centre in Punnamada.

dna has learnt that Aparna, a bronze medallist in the Junior National Rowing Championships in Lucknow last year, was a promising athlete and her name figured in the list of Rowing Federation of India's potential candidate list for the 2020 Olympics and the 2019 Asian Games.

Shilpa, who is battling for life, is part of this list. Trisha Jacob was a gold medallist in the K-4 500m (kayak four) event at the National Games in Kochi, Kerala. The fourth girl, Sabitha, also in serious condition, is a rower.

Reliable sources have told dna that most of the senior rowers and sailors, put up at the SAI hostel, have represented India at various international meets. It has also been learnt that the only coach available for the said event was appointed only recently. All these players and coach (names withheld intentionally) are now under investigation on the charges of abetting suicide.

RFI president Rajlaxmi Singh Deo has expressed shock over the demise of such a promising athlete.

Why no sexual harassment redressal system?
SAI may now wake up to this menace but so far it has not taken measures to address the issue of sexual or mental harassment. dna has learnt from insiders that "not a single SAI centre actually has any redressal forum where girls can go and lodge their complaints".

"Forget sexual harassment cell, there is not even a mental counsellor or psychologist in the more than 100 SAI centres across India," said a SAI official, adding, "This incident would certainly put pressure on SAI to address this long pending demands of athletes."

India's top shuttler Saina Nehwal on Thursday demanded that centres be set up for athletes' help. "SAI centre should have an anti-sexual harassment cell. This is the need of the hour. It would help the athletes," said Nehwal.

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