Ramakanta Biswas

Sprinter Dutee Chand, whose social media post on alleged negligence of sportspersons in Odisha stirred up a controversy, refused to step back from her stance despite facing harsh criticisms from several quarters.  

Dutee stood firm on her allegations even after several senior sportspersons of the State criticised her for her Facebook post in which she accused the State government of developing sports infrastructure by spending crores of rupees while neglecting sportspersons.  

Though she deleted the post after pressure from various quarters, the ace sprinter on Saturday strongly backed her words and said her allegations were not ungrounded.    

“Sportspersons are being neglected. They are not given enough rewards they deserve. If they are being offered benefits, why is there a decline in the number of sportspersons in the State,” the athlete asked while speaking to OTV. 

“Earlier, sportspersons used to bring numerous medals by representing the State at the national level. But now none even participating,” she said.

She said sportspersons from other states are being adopted and alleged that sports training centres in Odisha are indulging in petty politics. She accused some officials of acting arbitrarily.  

“The Reliance Foundation is providing training to youths, but why it is failing to produce good players. In the absence of good sportspersons, the State is adopting players from other states like Assam, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. They are being played on behalf of the State,” alleged Dutee.

“International players like Srabani Nanda, Purnima Hembram, Jamuna Murmu and Amiya Mallick had played for the State and brought laurels. Where are those sports personalities now-a-days? What support they are being provided by the State government,” she questioned.        

In her Facebook post yesterday, Chand launched a veiled attack on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and said that ‘he’ was dancing around with the Hockey India Team, without considering the fate of other sports. “There is crores of money for Hockey India team but nothing for athletes,” she said.

Among others, former captain of India Hockey team Dilip Tirkey took strong exceptions to Dutee’s post. “Thousands of youths of Odisha regard her as an icon. However, her statement on hockey is disheartening and unfortunate,” Tirkey told OTV.

Expressing views on the issue, senior journalist Sandeep Mishra said, “The way she expressed her views on the issue earned her criticisms. However, the issue certainly has relevance. Because, when a huge amount of public money is spent, there is a need for debate on the issue.”

“Since the Odisha government is spending the money, emphasis should to be given on the aspects as to how it will benefit the people and youths of the State,” Mishra said.   

The view of the State Sports Minister Tusharkanti Behera could not be obtained over the issue.