New Delhi: A wrestling coach from Haryana was suspended by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), on Saturday, after four junior girls in a national training camp in Lucknow filed charges of sexual harassment against him.
The incident happened during the training camp for the under-19 girls in the Uttar Pradesh capital last month. While the team has already left for the Asian championship in Kazakhstan, the coach was stopped from accompanying the squad and has been placed under suspension.
According to SAI director general Desh Deepak Verma, the matter was taken up after the junior girls filed a written complaint with the sports minister Ajay Maken. The incident is now being investigated by a three-member committee, headed by SAI’s Lucknow-based director Rachana Govil. The committee is expected to submit a report in the next 15 days.
The four girls, in their complaint, alleged that on the night of May 15, the coach from Haryana entered the room of one of the junior wrestlers, who raised an alarm after coming out of the room. The other girls in the camp rushed to her rescue and managed to lock the room from outside.
The complaint also said that another coach tried to save his colleague, when the girls called him. Both of them managed to walk out of the women’s hostel and even threatened to jeopardise the career of the girls if the matter was reported to the authority.
“The girls, who filed the complaint, have already left for Kazakhstan,” said the SAI director general. He, however, added that one of the junior wrestlers has withdrawn her complaint, claiming that her signature was forged.
Sources in the wrestling federation, however, said that the girl was forced to withdraw the complaint by the local authorities in Lucknow. “She was actually threatened that she would be dropped from the team,” said the source.
Interestingly, SAI officials seem to be trying to shield the coach even before the enquiry could be completed. A senior official even said the rivalry between wrestlers from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh could be the cause of trouble. No action has been taken against the other coach, who, was also present in the scene though he has not been allowed to go with the team.