Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel refused to comment on whether the Indian medallists at the Paralympic Games in Rio would receive the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. Goel said there were no policies in place for Paralympians receiving the Khel Ratna, which is India's highest honour for sportspersons, and that the Sports Ministry would take up the matter.
This year, four Olympians have been awarded the Khel Ratna – shuttler PV Sindhu, who won a silver medal in Rio, wrestler Sakshi Malik, who won the bronze, shooter Jitu Rai and gymnast Dipa Karmakar.
This is not the first time that the discussion around the Khel Ratna and Paralympians has made the news. High jumper HN Girisha, with a silver at the London Paralympics in 2012 and a bronze at the Para Asian Games in Incheon in 2014, had also previously claimed that he had been not considered for the Khel Ratna; the 2015 honour instead went to Sania Mirza.
India have won four medals at the 2016 Rio Paralympics so far – Mariyappan Thangavelu in the high jump and Devendra Jhajharia in the javelin throw have won gold, while Deepa Malik became the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Paralympics by winning silver in the shot put, and Varun Bhati won a high jump bronze.