On a day when India's Olympian athletes Jitu Rai, Dipa Karmakar, PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik were set to be conferred with the Khel Ratna awards, the Indian women's hockey team — which also featured in the recently concluded Rio Olympics 2016 — was subjected to the worst possible humiliation.
Four players, all part of the Olympic squad, were asked to sit on the floor of a train, after a TTE was unable to confirm their tickets on the Dhanbad-Allepey Express. Railway authorities denied berths to the athletes despite the four being railway employees themselves!
Deep Grace Ekka, Namita Toppo, Sunita Lakra and Lilima Minz from Odisha were the four athletes, according to Times Now, and were asked to sit on the floor of the train. This incident took place despite them being railway employees and therefore not requiring any tickets to be booked prior.
"We asked the TTE to allot berths to us but he denied. After travelling for about an hour, we got seats," Sunita Lakra told the Deccan Chronicle on Sunday.
Sundargarh sub-collector Himanshu Sekhar Behera informed the newspaper, "We will draw the attention of the railways about the incident. They should have been provided seats. It is the responsibility of the department to take care of them."
This incident comes in stark contrast to some of India's other Olympians, who are being felicitated across the country for their achievements in Rio.
"The entire nation is happy at this moment and jumping with joy, there are greater things to come," said legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar while awarding BMW cars to Rio Olympics silver medallist, shuttler PV Sindhu, bronze winning grappler Sakshi Malik, along with gymnast Dipa Karmakar and badminton coach Pullela Gopichand.
While on one hand the best Indian performers were being rewarded with luxury cars and superstar treatment, the women's hockey team couldn't even be provided with seats on a train. All Olympians, regardless of their performance at the Olympics, deserve some degree of respect and the selective treatment of athletes speaks volumes of the problems that the average sportsperson in India goes through.