Sports Ministry directs AICF to take necessary action on Barua complaint

This directive takes cognizance of Barua’s detailed complaint made on September 6 to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju.

Dibyendu Barua (in picture) had alleged numerous acts of misuse of power and misappropriation of State Government fund by Atanu Lahiri.   -  The Hindu

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has directed All India Chess Federation (AICF) to take necessary action on the complaint filed by Grandmaster Dibyendu Barua against Bengal Chess Association secretary Atanu Lahiri and provide the action taken report.

This directive, in a letter dated September 18, takes cognizance of Barua’s detailed complaint made on September 6 to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju.

It may be recalled that Barua had alleged numerous acts of misuse of power and misappropriation of State Government fund by Lahiri, who is also a joint secretary in the AICF. On August 30, AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan issued a press statement condemning Lahiri’s attitude and announced that the AICF would initiate a “thorough enquiry of BCA and its secretary on the charges leveled by Barua.”

The same day, the Emergency Meeting of BCA was unanimous in questioning Lahiri’s conduct that was “totally unbecoming of a secretary.” A two-member disciplinary committee for formed and Lahiri was given 21 days to respond to a show cause notice.

No response

The show cause notice, signed by Working President Srenik Sett, categorically stated, “Please also take note that if your explanation is not received in time or is found to be unsatisfactory, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against you.”

The 21-day deadline ends on Monday and so far, Lahiri has not responded to the show cause notice. Further, he has sought judicial course and case is likely to come up for hearing on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, on September 9, the AICF president wrote to all office bearers and State associations that the press release (signed by Bharat Singh Chauhan) on August 30, “went beyond the brief given by me and has created unnecessary emotions giving the impression that AICF has made up its mind. It is important that we in the AICF be seen as impartial. I see some members of the Bengal Chess Association have already called a meeting to initiate action against Mr. Atanu [Lahiri] even before the AICF has done the investigation.”

Related | Indian chess chief urges impartial probe into BCA mess

The president went on to nominate a three-member committee comprising Messrs A. Narasimha Reddy (Chairman), D. V. Sundar (both vice-presidents of AICF) and Kishor Bandekar (Treasurer, AICF) to oversee the already long-overdue election process in the State and enquire into the complaint received from Barua. The committee was given three months to submit a report.

Strikingly, Chauhan was kept out of the committee. As is the norm in most National Sports Federations, the secretary remains a de-facto member of all committees.

On September 16, Mr. Reddy issued a letter, addressed to Lahiri — with an “order” — directing the BCA to hold elections in early October. The letter was silent on the process of enquiry.

Here, the BCA officials are baffled how the AICF committee could address the letter of Lahiri, who was facing serious charges. Moreover, Lahiri was yet to receive ‘clean chit’ from the two enquiry committees formed to look into the allegations made by Barua.

With both AICF and BCA divided on the subject, the coming days could see the controversy snowball into something much bigger.