Former women's hockey coach M. K. Kaushik, facing alleged sexual harassment charges, on Monday singled out Hockey India Secretary General Narinder Batra for his “uncalled for observations” in his letter to the Union Sports Ministry.
Kaushik, assisted by advocate Mandira Mitra, claimed that he had received the letter from HI, released to the media on Friday, only on Monday morning. “I would like to protest at the gross abuse of power committed by the incumbent (Batra) in releasing the contents of the letter to the media prior to its receipt by me,” Kaushik stated in his reply to the letter.
Batra, alleged Kaushik in his reply, made available to the media, has been “conspiring for long to appoint a certain person as the coach of the women's national hockey team.”
Kaushik and Ms. Mitra highlighted the discrepancy in the HI letter and its statements to the media. HI had stated, “the written versions of Ranjitha Devi (the complainant) command high credibility since it has made specific charges and specific statements which relate to Kaushik about oral advances made by him, and since our committee did not have coercive powers to verify and test the versions of Ranjitha Devi which carries high credibility.”
Kaushik and Mitra pointed out the discrepancies in the statement and the report of the enquiry committee. They said that HI gave high importance to the complainant's statements and then admitted that the panel did not have the coercive powers to verify and test the versions of the player who made the allegations.
Kaushik raised objections to certain references in the letter by HI and observed, “the management (of HI) is acting in a vindictive manner and making recommendations to the higher authorities which are against the conclusions of the enquiry committee.”
In response to HI decision of not wanting to avail his services in the future, Kaushik said, “What has prompted HI to arrive at the conclusion that in future my services would not be required. The enquiry report only suggests that a further enquiry may be conducted by the government.”
The former women's coach also questioned the HI motive when it observed in its report that “the committee should have recommended action and not merely suggested for action to Ministry of Sports.”
Kaushik's contention is, “HI is trying to undermine the report submitted by the very committee that was constituted by it. It is clearly apparent that since the committee could find no substance or corroboration of the various allegations in the complaint.”
The reply by Kaushik also challenged HI's decision to refer the matter to the police since the enquiry committee had not made any such recommendation. Kaushik termed the entire controversy “pre-meditated” and an attempt to “intimidate me, my family and future coaches.”
Ms. Mitra also pointed out that the contention of HI to make Kaushik's alleged offence and its consequences as an “example” for future coaches in any sport amounted to a conclusion of guilt of the coach even before a proper enquiry was conducted.
“All these are baseless allegations and manipulations only because I have been a strict disciplinarian. Performance (to assess a player) is not judged by me alone, we have a system in place,” said Kaushik.