Even though Indian para-athletes have made the country proud by winning 19 medals, there is a lot of work left to be done to improve the condition of the differently-abled. Sharad Kumar, Devendra Jhajaria and Sumit Antil opened up about the bullying they have had to face while growing up.
When the entire country is celebrating the achievements of Indian para-athletes in the Tokyo Paralympics, a group of medalists has come out in open and spoken about the horrors of 'bullying' and 'ragging', they've had to face in their lives. The accounts of Sharad Kumar, Devendra Jhajaria and Sumit Antil will make anyone's blood boil with anger.
Speaking with NDTV upon returning home after their heroics in Tokyo, the trio raised pertinent concerns over the issue. Sharad, who won a bronze in the T63 category high jump said that he still gets nightmares from the bullying done in school. "Bullying is a very serious issue. Be it school or college, a lot of students are subjected to bullying and they leave studies because of it.
"There are people who apologise what they did years later saying they were naive. But, you need to understand it does not help there. Those who are bullied face traumas for the rest of their lives," Sharad added.
"I was bullied by seniors in school. They say sorry after that. But, the one who was bullied has nightmares about it for years. I am telling you this from my personal experience. I still have nightmares of being bullied."
Antil, who won a gold, shared his experieces. He said, "I wasn't bullied, but people did look at me when I used to go to the stadium in half-pants. I think the situation has improved now."
Meanwhile, Jhajaria went on to say, "I faced this the most. After my accident, when I was only 9, people used to look at me and pass comments. In fact in school I was told, 'what are you doing in the field, go to your class since you're physically challenged'. That is when I beat all the other kids in sports and became a district champion."