Video Editor: Vivek Gupta
On 4 January, five national-level tribal athletes reached Kotwali police station in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh, around the time night set in. The students handed out a written complaint seeking action against two of their coaches at Bijapur Sports Academy who had allegedly beaten them up.
"I have scars on my back. They beat me up the most," says one of the five students.
But it wasn't the first time. The students allege that the coaches habitually use casteist slurs against them and they even kicked a girl out of the sports academy last year.
The incident came to light when the students filed a complaint of physical abuse against them at Kotwali police station.
Four out of five complainants are minors in the case.
What Happened on 4 January?
“They said since the lockdown was going to be imposed, we won't be training. We told them that they hadn't been coaching us, since August. They sleep till 8 am. We told them to train us as we are going to play at national and international levels.”Onish Kudiyam, a national-level judo player
“Then, the coach said that we needed to be disciplined. Just then, a little bit of tobacco he was chewing came out from his mouth and Haniram (one of the students) started to laugh. The coach got angry and started beating us and abusing us,” says Roshan Pujari, another tribal student.
Bijapur Sports Academy was established in 2016 to nurture sporting talent among the tribal students in Maoist-infested part of Chhattisgarh. The academy has over 100 students who have often represented the state at national-level sports competition.
“When I laughed, he said they need to be taught discipline. He took a bamboo stick and started thrashing us and cursing us. We have the marks. I got hurt on my thigh,” says Haniram Korsa, who is a national-level karate player.
'Coaches Didn't Train, Use Casteist Slurs'
Students allege that the coaches don't train them and beat them regularly. One of the students said the coaches even come drunk and misbehave with them.
“They even abuse girls and use casteist slurs. They said to one girl, 'You are a Gond Muria and you have come here only to eat, and we will not train you' and kicked her out,” says Onish.
“We come here to practice, and we should be trained and promoted, but these people only eat and sleep till late. We are not given any training. Actions should be taken against them because they have beaten us badly. We should get justice. We want this news to go viral so that we can get justice,” Onish further adds.
Meanwhile, the administration is considering the suspension of both the coaches.
Amit Yogi, in-charge of the academy, said, “The academy is planning to suspend both the coaches as of now. We have taken into account statements from all sides, and a decision will be finalised soon.” The coaches weren't available for comments.