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Sunday, 13 September 2015

Disabled SA athlete, convicted of murder, is state’s ‘role model’ - Mumbai

Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympic champion who is serving a five-year sentence for killing his girlfriend, is the role model for the Maharashtra state social justice department. His picture has been displayed outside the Mantralaya cabin of minister Rajkumar Badole. 

Of the total six posters displayed outside the minister's cabin, four of them are foreigners. Three of them are of physically disabled people, two are mentally challenged and one of a south Indian traditional dance. These posters also have mugshots of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, Rajkumar Badole and minister of state for social justice Dilip Kamble. 

Pistorius is a South African double-amputee sprinter, also known as the Blade Runner. His legs were amputated from below the knee when he was 11 months old but has competed in events for single below-knee amputees and normal athletes. 

Pistorius was sentenced to five years in jail for culpable homicide after shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013. 

Officials from Badole's office said they were not aware of who featured in the posters or what their background was. 

However, sources said Gajanan Wagh, a BJP man who hails from the minister's native town and who is considered close to him, had selected and displayed the posters with the minister's permission. 

"I don't know who they are. I have just randomly searched for 'physically challenged' on the internet and selected these pictures. These pictures and inspirational quotes are a step to encourage physically and mentally disabled people," Wagh told TOI. 

He however said the "motivational posters will soon be replaced with Indian, preferably Maharashtrian award winners, such as blind music composer Ravindra Jain and others". 

Badole was not available for comment despite repeated attempts - he was not at his Mantralaya office on Friday and did not respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment. 

Opposition Congress termed the episode as 'government's stupidity'.

An activist working for physically disabled people said, on the condition of anonymity, "The officials from the department at least should know about the background of the people on the posters; otherwise it would be an insult to the minister. The department should also consider state and national players from the country. They would also feel honoured and proud."

Source : TOI , 13th Sep 2015 

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