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Uganda Sports Minister Demands Apology From India

New Delhi, Oct 7: The Ugandan sports minister today demanded an apology from the Indian authorities for a freak accident at the Games Village in which three top officials of their delegation were injured. "What
PTI October 07, 2010 20:47 IST
PTI
New Delhi, Oct 7: The Ugandan sports minister today demanded an apology from the Indian authorities for a freak accident at the Games Village in which three top officials of their delegation were injured.

"What is paining us is that despite this mistake they are yet to apologise. The government has not come out officially to apologise to our team," said Uganda's Minister of State for Sports Charles Bakkabulindi.

"....they are the ones who have caused the accident, they should say sorry and we are taking necessary steps. We are seeking for an apology, we are so disappointed," said Bakkabulindi.

He added that if the authorities would have apologised they would not have been annoyed.

Alleging that there might be discrimination against the African contingent, Bakkabulindi told 'Times Now', "Should we take it that they are discriminating against some of the African countries to this extent and yet we don't want discrimination in the Commonwealth Games. This is the question that is confusing us."

Describing the incident, the minister said the vehicle in which the officials were travelling had been cleared at the first check point but in the second check point a reckless police person stopped them which resulted in the accident.

Uganda chef-de-mission William Tumwine, Administrative Officer Iren and Press Attache Juliet were injured on Tuesday night when the official Games car they were in braked suddenly and hit the hi-tech underground sharp metal stoppers that had sprung up as they were entering the Village.

In a major embarrassment,  a hi-tech barrier meant to secure the Games Village ended up seriously injuring three top officials from Uganda, including the chef de mission and the press attache. The car carrying the officials was entering the Village late Tuesday night when a tyre killer - a sharp-edged barrier that stays below the ground when authorized vehicles are being let in - rose suddenly and hit the vehicle, reports Times of India.

The three occupants were thrown about inside their Tata Sumo Grande as it braked sharply and hit the barrier. Ugandan chef de mission William Tumwine, administrative officer Iren and press attache Juliet were rushed to G B Pant Hospital with injuries on the forehead and eyes. Tumwine and Iren underwent immediate eye surgeries. Curiously, no case has been registered by the police.

It's not clear whether the mishap was caused by human error or a device malfunction. Police sources maintain it was the latter. They said the incident was reported past midnight on Tuesday (12.30am Wednesday morning) when the tyre killer was incorrectly activated after the radio frequency reader failed to read the vehicle's sticker. The car had crossed the boom barrier and was approaching gate number 1 meant for athletes and team officials.

However, it's possible that a security personnel accidentally pressed the button to activate the tyre killer before the vehicle had gone past the device, which is located 200-300 metres from the boom barrier.

A team of doctors from Guru Nanak Eye centre - the designated eye hospital for the Games - was called in at 2am to carry out the surgeries. ''Iren had serious muscular injuries near her left eye and forehead. It's a big cut on the eyelid and left side of the face," said a hospital source.

"All the three were discharged from the hospital on Wednesday. They came in with certain injuries and were immediately looked after at the G B Pant Eye hospital," Dr M Jegathesan, chairman, medical committee of Commonwealth Games told PTI.

Mayor of the Commonwealth Games Village today apologised to the Uganda delegation for the freak accident.

"The mayor of the Games Village (Dalbir Singh) came to us, offered a bouquet of flower and apologised for the incident on behalf of everybody. I am happy that the mayor came and consoled us," Uganda Chef de Mission William Tumwine told PTI.  

Tumine, however, blamed Delhi Police for the incident and said nobody from the force came to see the injured officials and offer regret for the incident.  

"Nobody from Delhi Police came to us and apologised. But we are happy that the mayor came," he said.

Sports Minister M S Gill spoke to Ugandan Minister of State for Sports Charles Bakkabulindi and conveyed his deep regrets on behalf of the CWG Organising Committee, sources said. 

He invited the Ugandan Minister and his family to meet him tomorrow, they said. 

Gill also spoke to Ugandan High Commissioner Nimisha J Madhvani to express regrets.

Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennell also expressed regrets for the mishap and said it is being investigated. 

Giving details about the accident, OC Secretary General Lalit Bhanot said there were four persons inside the car (including the driver). 

"The were taken to the Village polyclinic and an MRI was done before they were shifted to a hospital (G B Pant Eye hospital) outside the Village," he said.

Hospital sources said Iren came with a cut in the eye-lid and a swelling on forehead. She received stitches. 

Juliet, meanwhile, was hit in the back of the skull and had a big swelling behind her head. 

The contingent's Chef De Mission, however, had minor injuries, sources said. PTI