AICF joint secretary Atanu Lahiri writes to PM, alleges corruption against secretary Chauhan

All-India Chess Federation joint-secretary Atanu Lahiri on Saturday sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging "data theft, corruption and misuse of funds" by secretary.

Atanu Lahiri addresses the media in Kolkata on Saturday.   -  Special Arrangement

In a fresh twist to their internal wrangling, All India Chess Federation joint-secretary Atanu Lahiri on Saturday sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging "data theft, corruption and misuse of funds" by secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan.

The move comes less than a month after the AICF secretary had come to Kolkata to give official recognition to 'Sara Bangla Daba Sangstha' (SBDS) as the apex body in Bengal, sidelining the Bengal Chess Association which is backed by International Master Lahiri.

The SBDS is backed by city-based Grandmaster Dibyendu Barua, with whom Lahiri has been at loggerheads since 2019 when the veteran GM had levelled various charges including "misappropriation of funds" against him.

In his five-page letter to the Prime Minister, Lahiri has alleged that Chauhan had signed a "secret agreement" with Thought Roots India Private Ltd to share "all the data and confidential information of the Federation".

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"By secretly agreeing to share all data, including the personal information of about 1,00,000 registered chess players and officials from India, to a commercial company engaged in the business of chess coaching, Bharat Singh Chauhan has misused his position as secretary of AICF," he wrote.

"Moreover, he has compromised on the security of the personal information of the chess players, making them vulnerable to online hacking of banking information and even child abuse," Lahiri claimed in his complaint.

Meanwhile, Chauhan hit back, saying "the retaliation of Lahiri comes at a time when he was issued a show cause notice for his forgery and for recovery of funds that came from Sports Authority of India." Lahiri further claimed that Nurtr -- a sister company of Thought Roots India Private Ltd -- was given preferential treatment by Chauhan.

"The proximity of Nutr with Bharat Singh Chauhan can be clearly established since it has been given preferential treatment by Chauhan in all the events which are specially organised by him," Lahiri wrote, citing examples of Nutr being the media in-charge for the 2019 World Junior Chess Championship and Delhi International Open.

Lahiri, who had earlier been show-caused by the national federation for engaging in "anti-AICF activities", further alleged misuse of AICF funds.

"On 18.05.2021, the secretary of AICF, Bharat Singh Chauhan, circulated the budget allocation of AICF for the year 2021-22 and earmarked Rs 3 crore for a permanent office of AICF in his home town in Delhi. Subsequently, he called an offline meeting during the pandemic to get the budget passed," Lahiri wrote.

"On June 30, a statement on a blank paper signed by Chauhan, along with President Sanjay Kapoor and Treasurer Naresh Sharma, was mailed to all the members stating that the Federation is acquiring a property at 101 & 102, A Block, Navrang Bhavan, 21 KG Marg, New Delhi, for the office of AICF.

"There is no need to purchase a permanent office for AICF in Delhi or any other town by spending Rs 3 crore, especially when an office space could be rented from the bank interest of the said amount," Lahiri wrote.

Chauhan hit back at Lahiri and said the NDA he was talking about was to protect the players' interest and not sell any data.

"The NDA that Lahiri is talking about was to protect the interest of the players. Not sell any data. All this was discussed in GB and the matter was closed," he said in a statement.

The AICF had filed a petition about a possible case of forgery and misuse of funds by Lahiri almost ten months back. The Sports Ministry had in fact written to then AICF President P R Venketrama Raja but he never replied to the query, the chess federation secretary said.

Responding to Lahiri's charge on the AICF having an office, Chauhan said, "In February early this year the GB of AICF had approved that AICF should have its office. And in the next two subsequent meetings the details were agreed unanimously about this. As a member of GB Lahiri was present and did not raise any questions when this was finalised." He claimed that the chess players of the country are far happier than ever and said "We are creating new opportunities for them." "Intimidation has never been our motto. We are for players only. All this is a figment of his imagination," he added.

"Lahiri is acting up now because we have issued him a show cause notice and he is liable to pay a sum of Rs 7.5 lakh to AICF," Chauhan further said.

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