Last year when Mohammedan Sporting was preparing to play the I-League qualifiers, it was supposed to be the new dawn for the club that been in the shadows of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal for a long time now. After a whole lot of success early on and becoming an identity for the Muslims of the country, Mohammedan was mismanaged, like most other Kolkata clubs, and stopped being relevant beyond the Kolkata circle. Ahead of the I-League qualifiers in 2020, Mohammedan revealed a fresh logo, jersey and came with a young management, trying to bring a new front. The team did win the qualifiers and made the I-League, where they even made to the second phase. However, now, the club is back in turmoil.
During the I-League qualifiers, Wasim Akram was the general secretary of the club after being promoted from the youth development chairman position. Even during the qualifiers, Mohammedan had a major controversy on the field when Yan Law was sacked by the club after two I-League qualifying matches for allegedly sharing information about the team with Minerva academy owner Ranjit Bajaj. However, off the field now Mohammedan is in a bigger mud.
Akram claims that he was forced out of the club because he was “asking too many questions". The previous general secretary always “gave excuses to the supporters" saying it’s a public club and there isn’t enough funding and with the Covid-19 pandemic striking, he said he couldn’t support the club financially anymore and decided to step away. This is where Akram came to the forefront. Akram said that when he took over as the general secretary in July 2020, he had a lot of things in hand. He was appointing people, assembling the team for the I-League qualifiers and getting acquainted with the functioning of the club. Amid all of this, Akram said he received a notice from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The CBI notice, which is in possession of News18.com, summoned documents from Mohammedan relating to their investigation into Angel Agritech Group of Companies. In the CBI notice, the agency asked for documents related to the receipt of amount from the said company and reasons for receiving money from them. CBI further asked for “internal constitutions/rules and regulations followed by the club for - a. the appointment of the management. b. entering into an agreement with an entity", management details from 2010-2014, documents reflecting receipt of money from the said company and Income Tax Rates (ITRs) filed by the club for the financial period of 2009-2014.
Akram said when he asked the club committee for the above-mentioned documents and details about the same, he didn’t receive any clear answers. “I had to run pillar to post to find documents. Finally upon persuasion, the committee members told me that I could check a couple of bank statements, which were operational at that time. Upon receiving the documents, CBI asked me further questions around the amount received and the income tax submissions and the committee had nothing, they never maintained a book," Akram said exclusively to News18.com.
Akram said when he joined Mohammedan, he knew that it was a minority club and there are no sponsors, no substantial donations, which is why the club can’t field a proper team. However, he claims when he went through the bank statements of just two accounts (he believes there were many more), he found huge amounts of donations and irregularities in the way public funds were drawn out of the bank accounts, none of which was used for the functioning of the club.
He further claims that huge amounts of self-withdrawal was done under signatures of the then-president Sultan Ahmed, the then-GS Jamil Manjar (now 25 per cent owner and working president) and the then-treasurer Amiruddin Bobby (owns 25 per cent of the club) and no audit of the same was submitted to the Registrar of Society. The bank statements are in possession of News18.com and there are self-withdrawals of upto Rs 50 lakhs in 2012. Akram also said that the club didn’t even file income tax returns all those years and no TDS (Tax Deducted at Source) was also cut.
Akram said after being “thrown out of the club", he filed a case in the High Court and according to its order, the audit of last 10 years will be done, which includes him as well. According to the High Court order, the executive committee members have also been stopped from using the bank accounts of the club, particularly the ones belonging to Akram.
Akram also claims that after he sent the notice to Mohammedan SC, the committee members called the elections, which was never the norm and something that Akram was questioning when he was at the club.
News18.com has also come under possession of a letter written to the Executive Committee of Mohammedan SC by Mohd. Ismail Khatri against Akram. In the letter, Khatri claims that Akram promised his son Sohail Khatri membership in the club and that he will play in the I-League for the club in return for Rs 5 lakh. Khatri says in the letter that Akram “cheated" him on December 14, 2020.
Akram burst out laughing upon hearing about the letter and said that Khatri is close to Mohd. Qamaruddin, who is the current senior vice-president at the club, and that he has been donating money to the club since 2019. Akram also shared with News18.com the receipt of the Rs 5 lakh he submitted in the bank account on December 19, 2020, because the donation was made in cash.
Akram says the High Court order directs for audit in his functioning as well and he has nothing to fear. “These people have to be punished. They have siphoned public money. This is a public club, it’s a public fund and donation has been made with sentiments. They have fooled the supporters and the people. They have to be made accountable," Akram said.