AICF probe committee didn't speak to all parties: Barua


Chennai, Oct 22 (IANS): The three-member probe committee set up by the All India Chess Federation (AICF) to look into various allegations against Bengal Chess Association Secretary Atana Lahiri heard only what it wanted to hear for its report, Arjuna Awardee and India's second chess Grand Master Dibyendu Barua said on Tuesday.

He also said by keeping out AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan out of the probe committee, it seems the AICF President P.R. Venketrama Raja is not giving importance to him.

"I had expected the probe committee to give a clean chit to International Master Atanu Lahiri, Secretary, Bengal Chess Association (BCA) and Joint Secretary, AICF. And it happened so," Barua told IANS.

"The probe committee heard what it wanted to hear without speaking to all the parties or stake-holders involved and submitted its report. Some charges can be probed by studying the documents and some has to be probed by speaking to people involved," he added.

Barua said his request to Raja to change the composition of the probe committee went unheeded.

Citing the tradition that AICF Secretary will be a member of probe committees, he said perhaps for the first time the Secretary was deliberately kept out.

"It is also the tradition that when an official is probed, he would be suspended from his official position till his name is cleared. But here, the probe was conducted by office bearers of AICF and Lahiri also an officer bearer was not suspended," Barua added.

AICF President Raja in September had constituted a three member inquiry committee to probe into the various allegations, including conflict of interest levelled by Barua on against Lahiri.

The probe committee was headed by AICF Vice President A.Narasimha Reddy, and the other two members were Vice President D.V.Sundar and Treasurer Kishor Bandekar.

According to Barua, the probe committee did not seek details from the parents of Sneha Halder to verify his charges that Lahiri had prevented the defending State Under 9 Champion and the current Commonwealth Under 10 Champion from participating in state level chess tournaments.

Her father also backed Barua.

"No one from AICF or any member of the enquiry committee got in touch with me to confirm whether my daughter was prevented from playing in tournaments," Bhogirath Halder told IANS from Kolkata.

The probe committee in its final report, dated October 10, had given a clean chit to Lahiri as there was no documentary proof submitted by Barua in support of his allegations.

Similarly, there seems to be a difference between AICF President Raja and Secretary Chauhan on the issue.

On August 30, soon after Barua levelled his charges against Lahiri, the AICF issued a press statement condemning the latter and it will initiate a probe into the affairs of the BCA.

The AICF also condemned the BCA's decision to stop Sneha Halder from participating in tournaments.

"The charges are against Bengal Chess Association Secretary Atanu Lahiri and the AICF wishes to inform all involved that we do not approve of this. No player can be stopped from playing chess. This is the motto of AICF," the statement said.

The AICF press statement had clearly mentioned that it was being issued with Raja's approval.

However, on September 9, Raja, in a letter to all the office bearers of AICF and the state associations, said: "The press release by the AICF (issued on Aug 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 till all allegations are verified and a chance is given to all parties to speak. I see some members of Bengal Chess Association have already called a meeting to initiate action against Mr Atanu even before the AICF has done the investigation," Raja said in the letter.

  

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