Saharanpur: Videos showing food being provided to Uttar Pradesh kabaddi players in a toilet have gone popular on social media, sparking widespread indignation and prompting the state administration to issue a "clarification."
The recordings, which are now widely circulated, were allegedly filmed on September 16 at an Under-17 state-level kabaddi competition for girls in Saharanpur by several participants.
The video show players serving themselves rice and vegetables from various dishes inside what seems to be a toilet. There were leftover 'pooris' on a piece of paper next to the rice and veggie dishes.
The camera moves to show urinals and wash basins in the frame before returning to show the rice dish stored on the toilet floor near its gate in a one-minute film. The players can be seen taking the meal and exiting the restroom.
In a second video, helpers are seen gathering up utensils and carrying them outdoors near the swimming pool where the meal is being prepared.
Following the outcry over the viral video, the state administration suspended Saharanpur Sports Officer Animesh Saxena. Mr. Saxena said that the food was stored in the "change room" (bathroom) due to "space constraints."
"There were concerns about poor planning. The district sports officer has been placed on leave. I've ordered an investigation, and the person in charge will produce a report in three days. We will take the necessary steps "Akhilesh Singh, District Magistrate of Saharanpur, said
"We prepared meal arrangements in the swimming pool area because it was pouring. The food was kept in the changing room near the pool. Because of the weather, there was no alternative location to put the food while construction work was being done in the stadium "Animesh Saxena had previously stated.
Several political parties have condemned the BJP for demeaning kabaddi athletes in viral videos.
"The BJP can spend crores on different campaigns, but it lacks the funds to offer suitable facilities for players," the Congress said in Hindi.
Y Sathish Reddy, the social media convener of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, tweeted, "Food served to kabaddi players in #UttarPradesh kept in the toilet. Is this how #BJP respects the players? Shameful!
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) president Jayant Chaudhary shared Mr. Reddy's tweet and called the incident "disrespectful".