KTR extends Rs 15 lakh assistance to specially-abled Punjab chess player

Telangana IT, industries minister KT Rama Rao extended his helping hand to specially-abled chess player Malika Handa after the world champion complained about the “injustice” meted out to her by the Punjab government.

In a video that went viral on social media, Handa lashed out at the dispensation in Punjab for refusing to honor a commitment reportedly made during Captain Amarinder Singh’s time to provide a job and financial aid to her.

Handa, 26, is the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in the International Deaf Chess Championship in 2016, held in Armenia.

Taking to Twitter on 2 January, Handa rued while stating that she was told by state sports minister Pargat Singh that Punjab has no policy of rewarding deaf sports persons.

“Singh said that his government cannot do anything as the assurance was made by his predecessor. I am only asking why it was announced then. Five years of my time wasted by the Congress government,” Handa said.

Responding to her agony on Twitter, Rao had offered to help her. On Monday Handa landed in Hyderabad from Jalandhar and met the minister.

Rao handed over a check of Rs 15 lakh and also a laptop to help her participate in online chess championships.

“I am doing this in my personal capacity after hearing about the international chess player’s plight and the unfair treatment she was receiving from the Punjab government. We are proud of what she has achieved already,” Rao said

The minister sought inputs from Handa on policies that could be brought in to support disabled sportspersons in Telangana.

Rao also appealed to Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur to help Handa get a central government job.

The two interacted with an interpreter’s help and Malika opined that Chess is not being treated as a mainstream sport in the country.

“I am overwhelmed by the support received from Telangana,” Handa said while thanking Rao.

Malika was born in Jalandhar, Punjab. She was not born deaf but lost her hearing and speech when she was one year old. Now, she lives with a 90 per cent hearing disability.

She began to play chess at the age of 15 and has won the national deaf chess championship six times until now.

She is the only woman from Punjab to have represented the state nine times in national championships. She has won one gold and two silvers in world deaf chess championship and as well as in Asian deaf chess championship.

Malika is now preparing for the World championship which is scheduled to take place in September in Poland.

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