AICF panel gives clean chit to Lahiri, Barua calls it a farce

Bengal Chess Association secretary Atanu Lahiri has been given a 'clean chit' by a three-member AICF enquiry panel in grandmaster Dibyendu Barua's case.

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

The All India Chess Federation’s three-member enquiry committee has given a ‘clean chit’ to Atanu Lahiri even as legal battle with Grandmaster Dibyendu Barua is awaiting a final verdict.

Hours after the All India Chess Federation (AICF) chose not to discuss the sub-judice matter in its Central Council meeting on Tuesday, the AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan received the final report of the
committee in an email from the federation president P. R. Venketramaraja.

On Wednesday morning, representatives of the several states were surprised why the report was not placed on Tuesday before the Central Council.

“The decision of such a committee comes into force provided the Central Council passes it. Since the report is dated October 10, 2019, why it was not presented (before the Council) even after five days?" asked a senior AICF functionary.

AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan said the next Central Council meet, to be held in December, would decide the fate of the enquiry committee report.

READ| Sports Ministry directs AICF to take necessary action on Barua complaint

The Committee comprising A. Narasimha Reddy (chairman), D. V. Sundar and Kishore Bandekar, met on September 16 and October 9 and considered replies given by Lahiri to the allegations of corruption by Barua. Eventually, the committee decided, “the allegations made against Mr. Atanu Lahiri are found without any basis and devoid of merit.”

When contacted, Barua slammed the decision. “From Day One, everyone connected with the matter knew the AICF committee was formed to give clean chit to Lahiri. The whole enquiry was a farce. I requested the AICF president for an impartial panel but he expressed his confidence in the members of the committee.”

Continuing his tirade, Barua asked, “When the Bengal Chess Association enquiry panel had found Lahiri guilty, and a Kolkata court had issued an order restraining Lahiri, where was the need for AICF to come up with this report in a sub judice matter?”

Barua now plans to meet Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee to seek justice.

For a non-profit making body, the AICF boasts of fixed deposits over Rs. 10 crores. With a view to lessen the financial burden on the event-hosting state associations, the Central Council on Tuesday
decided to make the “Ernest Money Deposit” refundable to the host association. For years, all staging associations paid a tidy non-refundable “deposit” to the AICF for any National or International events.

Further, the meeting also decided in favour of reducing the AICF’s share in each entry fee to 25 per cent from 50 per cent.