Antariksha Sethiya
Antariksha Sethiya

Bhopal: A 16-year-old artist Antariksha Sethiya has shot off a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) alleging partiality in selection of the winner of Bal Shakti Puraskar-2020 instituted by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Antariksha, a grade 11 student of Jawaharlal Nehru school, Bhopal said in the letter that he had, so far, won 215 painting competitions, including 21 international, 27 national and 167 state and district-level. In comparison, Riya Jain was the winner of just 95 competitions, including eight international, 16 national and 171 state and district level.

The complaint says that ignoring his claim, the award in the category of Art and Culture was given to Riya Jain, who also hails from Bhopal. He has also demanded that action should be taken against those who did ‘injustice’ to him.

The award is given as recognition to children with exceptional abilities and outstanding achievements in the field of innovation, scholastic, sports, art and culture, social services and bravery. Children in the age group 5-18 years are eligible for the award.

The prestigious award includes Rs 1,00,000 in cash and vouchers worth Rs 10,000 for buying books, besides commendation certificate. The 2020 awards were given away by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently at Delhi.

He had applied for the award under the Art and Culture category. His certificates were verified by the Collector’s office, after which his application was forwarded to the State Women and Child Development Department, which, in turn, made recommendations to the Central government.

Antariksha told Free Press that they had sent three letters to the PMO, the Union Women and Child Welfare Minister and to the Prime Minister personally on January 17, 18 and 20. “But we are yet to get any response,” he said.

His father Madhukar Sethiya said, “This is injustice and we will fight against it.” Listing his son’s achievements, he said that Antariksha had won the first prize in the state-level painting competition organised by the State Pollution Control Board four times in a row from 2015 to 2019 and had done Junior Certificate Course in painting from Raja Mansingh Tomar Music and Arts University, Gwalior in first division.

When contacted, Rajni Jain, mother of Riya Hain told Free Press that all certificates of her daughter were verified by the Collector’s office and then forwarded for the award. “If anyone has any complaint, I can do nothing about it,” she added.

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