India’s 1st International Woman Para Shooter Forced to Sell Chips
Despite having over 30 medals to her name, Dilraj Kaur is forced to sell chips at a roadside kiosk in Dehradun.
Video Producer: Maaz Hasan
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia/Prashant Bhardwaj
When you represent your country on an international stage, you would expect your government to respect you. However, this hasn’t been the case with me.
I, Dilraj Kaur, India’s first international para shooter, am now selling chips on the roadside near Gandhi Park in Dehradun. This is due to the negligence of the government. It does not intend to support its athletes, because of which I am struggling to make ends meet.
Back in 2004, when I started my career as a para shooter, there weren’t any women. Till the time I qualified for nationals, I used to compete with men. In 2005 when para athletes were divided in Men and Women categories, I won my first gold medal.
By 2017, I had over 30 medals to my name. I am also a certified coach and in March 2021, when the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup was held in Delhi, I was an Equipment Control Officer.
Despite having such an illustrious career, I am unable to make ends meet.
The last two years have been extremely difficult for us. In 2019, my father died of kidney failure and in February 2021, my brother met with an accident and passed away. For my mother and me, it was not just difficult coping with the loss but also the financial stress that came on us.
“After the demise of my father and my brother, there is no source of income for me and my mother. My father’s pension gets used up in paying rent and loan EMIs.”Dilraj Kaur
I am not begging. I am a certified coach and have a degree in law. I expect the government to treat not just me but other athletes with some respect and recognise us for our work.
“Now, I am also the voice of all athletes who have gone through this pain, because of a government that turns a blind eye to them, plunging them into darkness and poverty. That’s why I am doing this job. I am helpless but still fighting for respect. “Dilraj Kaur
I hope that the government will listen to me one day and offer us jobs instead of handouts.
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