SANGLI: The families of five wrestlers who died in a major accident on the Old Satara-Sangli Road say that they are yet to receive financial aid promised by the State government. The wrestlers, most of whom were from Sangli district, were killed in a freak accident on January 14, after which Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had promised financial aid of Rs 5 lakh to their families.
The wrestlers were returning home after participating in a competition held in the town of Aundh, Satara on the occasion of a town fair. On their way back to Sangli via the Old Satara-Sangli Road, the driver did not notice a tractor and its trailer parked on the roadside and the vehicle crashed into it.
Wrestlers Shubham Ankush Gharge (23), Sourabh Anil Mane (20), Akash Dadaso Desai (23), Avinash Sarjerao Gaikwad (21), Vijay Shivaji Shinde (22) and driver Ranjit Dinkar Dhanavade (20) died on the spot while eight other companions received serious injuries and are being treated in hospitals in Miraj and Karad.
Vijay Shinde was considered a rising star in mud wrestling circles of Maharashtra.
In January third week, after MP Sanjay Patil of BJP met Fadnavis, he had promised to provide financial aid to families of all the deceased sportsmen. None of the families has yet received any of the promised aid and are feeling insulted by the government as the families of the flag-bearers of a dying sport were misled in such manner.
“My brother was just 22 years old and had completed his Bachelors in Arts. He had taken admission for MA, all the while pursuing his passion for wrestling. Every expert of the sport said that he had a bright future in the sport,” said Shinde’s brother Ajay, adding, “We lost our dearest member of the family. We did not even expect anything from the government in the first place as no compensation can make up for his place.”
“But the government came forward and announced the aid. It was a decent thing to do in respect to the sportsmen of this State. We do not want the money, but are appalled by at the way the government has taken the issue of the death of its sportspersons,” Shinde said, adding, “We were even given help by the Kranti Sugar Factory which also ran the gymnasium where my brother trained. People came forward to help other families as well.”
Journalist and wrestling follower Sampat More, said, “The government should not have taken the issue so casually. They had a great potential in them. Vijay Shinde had even participated in the 97 kg category of the Maharashtra Kesari,” More said, adding, “If they were cricketers or footballers, the government would have reacted very differently.”