After a lull, the fight in the All India Chess Federation (AICF) has started again, this time from West Bengal.
International Master (IM) and AICF Joint Secretary Atanu Lahiri has this time fired the salvo, sharing a copy of a complaint sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Lahiri has complained to Modi against AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan for signing an agreement with Thought Roots India Private Ltd agreeing to share all the data and confidential information of the Federation with the company.
“By secretly agreeing to share all data, including the personal information of about 100,000 registered chess players and officials from India, to a commercial company engaged in the business of chess coaching, Bharat Singh Chauhan has misused his position as Secretary of All India Chess Federation.
“Moreover, he has compromised on the security of the personal information of the chess players, making them vulnerable to online hacking of banking information and even child abuse," Lahiri said in his complaint to the Prime Minister.
The AICF Joint Secretary from West Bengal has also alleged that Nurtr (a sister company of Thought Roots India Private Ltd) and Chauhan are close to each other.
Lahiri said Nurtr was given preferential treatment by Chauhan in all the events which were specifically organised by the latter and cited the 2019 World Junior Chess Championship and Delhi International Open where Nurtr was in-charge of the media.
On this issue, Chauhan was issued a show cause notice by then AICF President P.R. Venketrama Raja in 2019.
When asked for his response, Chauhan told IANS: “It (show cause notice) was replied and accepted by the GB (General Body). Everything is there. He (Lahiri) is a part of the GB, so he should raise all concerns there. Everything was discussed and approved in the GB."
On the issue of AICF buying a property in Delhi to be used as office, Lahiri told Modi: “On 18.05.2021, the Secretary of AICF, Bharat Singh Chauhan, circulated the budget allocation of AICF for the year 2021-22 and earmarked Rs 3 crore for a permanent office of AICF in his home town in Delhi. Subsequently, he called an offline meeting during the pandemic to get the budget passed."
According to Lahiri, on June 30, a statement on a blank paper signed by Chauhan, along with President Sanjay Kapoor and Treasurer Naresh Sharma, was mailed to all the members stating that the Federation is acquiring a property at 101 &102, A Block, Navrang Bhavan, 21 KG Marg, New Delhi, for the office of AICF.
“There is no mention of the size of the office space, carpet area, valuation of the property from the government, rate per square feet etc. in the report. Therefore, the transparency of the deal is under question," Lahiri said in his complaint.
According to him, the AICF is registered in Tamil Nadu and has its office in Chennai.
“There is no need to purchase a permanent office for AICF in Delhi or any other town by spending Rs 3 crore, especially when an office space could be rented from the bank interest of the said amount," Lahiri said.
“Moreover, the Secretary of AICF would not be from Delhi forever. Thus, one-third of the hard-earned funds of AICF, accumulated over the years, generated from players’ contribution, is being hurriedly siphoned off by the President, Secretary and Treasurer of AICF to acquire a permanent asset through a shady deal in the hometown of the Secretary," Lahiri said in his complaint to Modi.
Responding to that, Chauhan said: “The purchase of office was approved on February 14, 2021. The budget was approved on June 10. The rate and the property were approved on July 2, 2021."
Lahiri also said the AICF has violated the fundamental rights of a citizen by amending its Constitution to the effect that none of the members can take legal recourse in the court of law.
“It is very shocking to note that a National Sports Federation recognised by the Ministry of Youth affairs and Sports does not have faith in our judiciary and acts against the Constitution of India, which gives the citizens the fundamental right to seek Constitutional remedies," Lahiri said.