Deevya Aroraa, in her mid-thirties, won the title after making it to a shortlist of nine contestants, narrowed down from 250 candidates from across India.
A Delhi-based differently-abled woman, Deevya Aroraa, was on top of the world when she was crowned the first runner-up of the Miss India Wheelchair pageant in Mumbai on November 24.
But on the eve of International Day for People with Disabilities on Tuesday, Ms. Aroraa feels cheated by the organisers of the pageant.
She alleged that she was not given the cash prize of Rs.25,000 and a gift voucher that the organisers had advertised on their website. Ms. Aroraa, in her mid-thirties, won the title after making it to a shortlist of nine contestants, narrowed down from 250 candidates from across India.
“It was not an easy contest. It had four rounds which tested our abilities to think fast, answer quickly and look glamorous and beautiful,” she said.
She added: “The winner was given a power wheelchair, but I did not get anything except a sash and crown. The website claimed that the organisers will give Rs.25,000 and a gift voucher, but they didn’t mention it during and after the event. There has been no effort to reach out to me. I feel disheartened.”
The founder and owner of the contest, Sounak Bannerjee, conceded that the website had advertised cash prizes, vouchers, wheelchairs and holiday packages for the winner and runner-up.
“At the eleventh hour, on November 22, the sponsors back-tracked, saying they had already spent a lot on the lights, stage and venue. I couldn’t do anything about it,” Mr. Bannerjee said.
He admitted that going ahead with the contest after the sponsors had withdrawn was a mistake. “This was the first time I had organised the contest. The sponsors got their limelight before and during the event, then they backed out.”
Mr. Bannerjee said he is trying to resolve the matter with the sponsors, but has been unsuccessful so far. According to him, there was no resentment among the contestants over the sponsors’ withdrawal.
For Ms. Aroraa, the experience has left her disillusioned. “It takes money, time and energy to prepare for such an event. We should not have been kept in the dark,” she said.