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Wrestling to Cricket: Is sexual allegation ongoing story of sports corridor?

Wrestling to Cricket: Is sexual allegation ongoing story of sports corridor?

As demand intensifies for action against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh following sexual harassment allegations against him levelled by women wrestlers, similar previous incidents show the dark stories of the country's sports corridor.

The sexual harassment complaints are not only confined to wrestling but also make their way to several other sports, including the nation's favourite game -- Cricket. In light of this situation, it becomes crucial to delve into the intricate mechanisms employed by influential men to suppress and conceal such matters.

From corruption to sexual favours, in a revelatory expose, Neeraj Kumar, the former chief advisor of the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) anti-corruption unit, also unveiled a disheartening reality of cricket administration in India through his newly-launched book.

"A Cop in Cricket", authored by Neeraj Kumar, the book chronicles his eventful three-year term as the chief advisor of the BCCI Anti Corruption & Security Unit (ACSU) from 2015 to 2018.

With his extensive experience as a 1976 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, culminating in his retirement as the Delhi Police Commissioner in 2013, Kumar delves into the unspoken and shadowy underbelly of India's most beloved sport.

Talking to IANS, Kumar, citing the recent ongoing wrestlers' protest, said that there is a need for an impartial investigation into such allegations.

"The selection of committee members into such allegations or complaint into investigation is the most important part and most of the times, the members are those who are aligned to the alleged," he said.

Pointing out an international incident, Kumar cited an example, in which he said that after a party during pandemic at the then British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, an investigation was initiated by the civil administrator.

"It was an impartial investigation and in the end, as per a report submitted by the administrator, Johnson had to tender his resignation," the former top cop added.

In his tell-all book, Kumar portrays a scenario where those entrusted with the sport's governance show little concern for promoting the game or facilitating opportunities for talented cricketers. Instead, their primary focus appears to be safeguarding their own "personal fiefdom".

Kumar, in his book, levels a grave accusation against Vinod Rai, a self-proclaimed 'conscience keeper' and the former Comptroller General of India, who headed the Committee of Administrators (CoA), a panel appointed by the Supreme Court to oversee BCCI affairs, asserting that he shielded Rahul Johri, the former CEO of BCCI, when faced allegations of sexual harassment in 2018.

As per his book, while overseeing travel logistics, Kumar noticed the sudden absence of a woman staff member who had been assisting him. Upon her return, she confided in Kumar, revealing that she had been subjected to sexual harassment by Johri, for an extended period of time. Despite tendering her resignation, she was advised by Rai to wait before taking any further action.

In February 2018, the woman bravely shared her harrowing experience with Rai and Diana Eduljee, both members of the CoA.

According to Kumar's account, a few days later, he inquired with Rai about the progress of the complaint. To his observation, Rai appeared uncomfortable and explained that he had not received any written documentation from the woman. Sensing the need for formal evidence, Kumar assisted the woman in submitting a written complaint to the CoA. However, despite their efforts, no tangible outcome emerged from the complaint.

Kumar reveals that Johri apparently issued a written apology to the woman employee, accompanied by a tearful display of remorse. Eduljee later remarked that if not for her intervention, the aggrieved complainant might not have even received the apology letter from Rahul Johri. 

According to Kumar's account, Rai and Johri shared a relationship akin to that of a father and son, and Rai was unwilling to entertain anything against his favoured "prodigal son".

(Shekhar Singh can be reached at [email protected])


Tags: Cricket