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Paralympics Committee of India sacks its president; contemplates criminal case

New Delhi: The Paralympics Committee of India (PCI) has sacked its president Rajesh Tomar for the gross mismanagement at the recent National Para-Athletics Championship in Ghaziabad, where athletes suffered due to lack of proper facilities.

There were also charges of financial mismanagement during the 2014 Incheon Asian Para Games on Tomar.

The decision to suspend Tomar, who blamed the government for the Ghaziabad fiasco, was taken at the Executive Committee meeting of the PCI on April 4 in Bangalore.

The Executive Committee has appointed a three-member panel headed by a retired Delhi High Court Justice to probe Tomar's 'misuse of power' and alleged financial mismanagement. Tomar was not present at the EC meeting.

PCI Secretary General J Chandrashekar told PTI that Tomar was mainly responsible for the mismanagement of the Ghaziabad event but he 'shifted' the blame to government instead of owning responsibility as head of the national para sports body. He said Tomar also suspended five officials blaming them for the Ghaziabad fiasco and appointed an inquiry panel without authority.

In a shocking case of official apathy, differently-abled sports-persons participating in the 15th National Para-Athletics Championships (March 20-22) were put up at unfurnished and unhygienic accommodations in Ghaziabad, prompting the Sports Ministry to seek a report from the organisers.

Interestingly, the PCI Secretary General said that no action will be taken against anybody by the PCI for the Ghaziabad incident. "Tomar only gave the green signal to go ahead the National Para Athletics Championships at Ghaziabad and said everything was fine. He did not go for a pre-event inspection. He is based nearby but he was not present for most part of the event. Instead of owning up responsibility he shifted the blame to others and to the sports ministry. So the EC has decided to suspend him," he said from Bangalore.

"He (Tomar) misused his power by appointing an inquiry committee to probe the Ghaziabad incident without consulting any office bearer and then suspended five executive committee members on charges of financial misappropriation in a unilateral decision without authority. EC can only do that and not the President.

"Those officials had nothing to do with any financial matter and the letter of suspension sent to them were on the personal letterhead of Tomar and not of PCI and so null and void," he added. Tomar could not be contacted despite repeated attempts as his mobile phone returned with switched-off response.

Chandrashekar said that some members of the EC have alleged mismanagement of funds by Tomar during the Para Asian Games in Incheon last year.

"Some EC members have made complaints that Tomar has mismanaged funds meant for Incheon Para Asian Games. I can't tell the details at this point in time as I will have to place it before the inquiry panel. The EC has decided to file criminal and civil suits against Tomar in a Bangalore court if the inquiry panel finds anything against him," he said.

"We have constituted an inquiry committee under the chairmanships of retired Delhi High Court judge S Ramakrishnan, retired IAS officer Veda Murthy and Arjuna Award winning para athlete Kallegowda.

"It will probe the conduct and misuse of power by Tomar during and aftermath of the National Para Athletics Championships at Ghaziabad and the allegations of mismanagement of funds meant for Incheon Para Asian Games. The earlier committee formed by Tomar was null and void as he has no authority to do so," the PCI Secretary General said.

Tomar was also charged for manipulation of minutes of EC meetings and misleading the Ministry of Social justice and Empowerment and for curbing the fundamental rights of para athletes through anti-Athlete agreements and violating their human rights.

"All these things are against ethical values and against Athletes policy of International Paralympic Committee," the PCI Secretary General said. Chandrashekar said that under PCI rules, he has the authority to call an Executive Committee meeting and he had given notice of the meeting to all members, including Tomar.

"I sent notices via e-mail and personally on phone also to all the EC members nine days before the actual date of the meeting. Only seven days' prior notice is required under PCI rules," he said.

"Tomar was also told on phone to come for the meeting but he said he would not come and he would reject any decision taken by the EC. Ten out of the 12 EC members were present in the meeting," he added. He said the EC also made vice-president Nale Nandkishor, who was among the five suspended by Tomar after the Ghaziabad fiasco, as the interim president of the PCI.

Asked if any action will be taken against any official for the Ghaziabad incident, Chandrashekar said, "We are not taking any action against any official now. It was Tomar who said the event will have to be held there. He was responsible. From now onwards, there will be inspections and also a report before such events that all the facilities are in place and the para athletes will be taken care of," he said.

He said the PCI was hoping that the recent controversies do not impact on the hosting of the First Indian Open Para Games, an international event, here from May 2-9.

"Tomar is also the organising secretary of the First Indian Open Para Games. We have to decide whether he will continue in that post and we will have to consult the government on that. But, I hope we host the event with success. The ministry of social justice and empowerment, and sports ministry are bearing the cost of the event," he added.

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