10-year-old cycle polo player from Kerala dies of food poisoning, Cong demands probe into death

A plea moved in the Kerala High Court on Friday blamed the national federation and a Kerala-based association of cycle polo for the death

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NH Digital

Fathima Nidha Shihabuddin, a 10-year-old cycle polo player, from Kerala's Alappuzha died in Nagpur on Thursday. She was said to compete in the sub-junior category of the national cycle polo championship. Fathima is said to have been denied food and accommodation. She later succumbed to food poisoning from food given at a local dormitory. Alleged neglect and discrimination are suspected to have led to the girl's death.

Fathima's family has said that she complained of uneasiness, started vomiting and went to hospital for a check-up. She was given an injection and died in the hospital some time later. Her father has reached Nagpur and her post-mortem will take place today.

A plea moved in the Kerala High Court on Friday blamed the national federation and a Kerala-based association of cycle polo for the death.

In its plea, the Kerala Cycle Polo Association claimed that its team was permitted by the high court to participate in the sporting event at Nagpur in Maharashtra, but when its players -- including 10-year-old Fathima -- reached the venue, they were not provided food or lodging by the Cycle Polo Federation of India.

As a result, the players had to be accommodated in a local dormitory and the young girl got afflicted with food poisoning and died on Thursday morning, the petitioner association said in its contempt plea filed through advocate Santhan V Nair.

"It is the specific case of the petitioner (Kerala Cycle Polo Association) that the respondents herein (Cycle Polo Federation of India and the Cycle Polo Association of Kerala) are responsible for the death of the player," the contempt plea alleged.

The petitioner association is seeking contempt action against both sports bodies for alleged violation of the high court's December 15 order permitting teams or players selected by it to participate in the national-level event at Nagpur.

It claimed that when it arrived at the venue, the officials of the federation initially declined to allow them to participate and only after intervention of the Sports Ministry were the players selected by the petitioner permitted to take part.

However, the officials made it clear that they would not provide them with food and accommodation, the plea claimed.

It also claimed that food and accommodation was provided to the teams and players of the Cycle Polo Association of Kerala, which unlike the petitioners was not recognised by the Sports Council of the southern state.
It also alleged that when the championship commenced from December 22, entry forms were not collected from it and neither were its players permitted to participate.

On the other hand, the teams and players of Cycle Polo Association of Kerala were allowed to participate, the plea claimed.

"The petitioner begs to point out that the respondents herein have committed gross contempt of this court by not permitting the teams sponsored by the petitioner association to participate in the national championship.

"They have committed further contempt of court by permitting the teams sponsored by the 2nd respondent (Cycle Polo Association of Kerala) to participate in the championship," it said.

It further contended that the high court orders were also violated by recognising teams sponsored by the 2nd respondent as the official team representing Kerala and by not providing food, transportation and accommodation to the teams sponsored by the petitioner association.

The opposition Congress on Thursday termed the death as "unfortunate" and accused the Left government of 'negligence' and 'failure' in addressing the issues faced by players from the state.

The party demanded a proper investigation into the death of Fathima at the earliest and sought action against those officials who failed to ensure adequate facilities to the young sports stars.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condoled the death of the young player.

KPCC president K Sudhakaran charged that the national federation for cycle polo showed grave neglect towards the players from the state as they came to participate in the event with a court order.

The state players were even denied food and accommodation by the Federation though they allowed them to compete, he alleged.

The Congress leader said the state government and the sports department had the duty and responsibility to address the issues being faced by our players and intervene immediately.

"But, just like the past, the Sports department remained mere spectators in this issue also," he claimed.

Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly V D Satheesan also blamed the state sports department for 'failure' to provide basic amenities and security to the players.

The LoP also urged the Union Sports Ministry to inquire into the alleged denial of basic facilities and rights of the Kerala cycle polo team by the Federation.

According to police, Fathima Nida Shihabuddin's death medico-legal case was received from Shrikrishna Hospital. She had gone there with the complaint of stomach ache and died five minutes after being administered an injection.

(With PTI Inputs)

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