|Dipa Karmakar kisses her bronze medal after her arrival in Agartala from Glasgow. (AFP)
Agartala, Aug. 6: The Tripura government’s decision to reward Commonwealth Games medallist Dipa Karmakar by regularising her job has drawn flak from the Opposition as “no award at all”.
Dipa brought honour to her home state when she became the first Indian woman and second person from the country to win a Commonwealth Games medal in artistic gymnastics when she won the women’s vault bronze in Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
She was accorded a huge welcome when she arrived here on Monday. She was felicitated by sports and youth affairs minister Shahid Chowdhury in an open programme at the local UK Academy ground. She was presented a Titan wristwatch and subsequently chief minister Manik Sarkar blessed her in his chamber wishing her greater success in the upcoming Asiad in South Korea. Yesterday, the state cabinet decided to regularise her service with effect from August 1 — three years ahead of schedule.
Dipa, a five times individual champion in national women’s gymnastics in a row between 2009 and 2010 and 2013 and 2014, was appointed as a fixed-pay junior physical instructor by the state government in 2012 after her sterling success in the Ranchi National Games. She was to be regularised in service after completing five years in 2017.
Dipa, who was also awarded by the regional office of State Bank of India and business house Shyam Sundar Jewellery yesterday, refused to comment. “I am grateful for whatever has been done by the state government. My focus now is on winning the prestigious Arjuna award from the government of India and medals in the Asiad,” she said.
The Opposition, however, criticised the Left Front government with senior Congress leader and leader of the Opposition Sudip Roy-Barman dismissing the regularisation of Dipa's job as “no award or recognition at all” and “disgraceful”.
“All other state governments give high amounts of cash, land or residential flat and out of turn promotion in service to sportspersons as reward for success in international events. Our state government could at the very least have given Dipa an out-of-turn promotion while regularising her services,” he said.
He said the government should gather information from other state governments on how they reward successful sportspersons and give Dipa a cash reward of at least Rs 25 lakh.
Many leading sportspersons of yesteryears said the close-fisted treatment of eminent sportspersons was nothing new in Tripura.
Mantu Debnath, a former national champion in gymnastics and the first Arjuna award winner in the country from the discipline in 1975, had received nothing from the state government. Mantu did not need a job or promotion as he had already secured the job of a Sports Authority of India (SAI) coach but he could never gain possession of a plot of government land allotted to him by the first Left Front government headed by late Nripen Chakraborty.
Another and more pathetic case is that of female gymnast Kalpana Debnath who was a national individual champion many times and became a SAI coach. Kalpana was conferred the prestigious Arjuna award in 2000 but got absolutely no award or recognition from the government of her home state — not even a formal felicitation.