‘There are Small Girls…Will be Consequences’: Was Goa Govt Aware of Swimmers Being Sexually Harassed?
Panaji: Was the Goa government and the Goa Swimming Association aware of the alleged sexual harassment of girl swimmers by the arrested chief coach Surajit Ganguly, much before the video, which shows him allegedly molesting a minor swimmer that went viral last week?
According to another video clip which went viral on Sunday, Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat, during the last Assembly session had warned Sports Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar of possible consequences, if the state government did not appoint a female coach for the training of girl swimmers.
"Girls are facing embarrassment and problems. There is not a single (women coach). Please keep it in mind. It is very important or tomorrow I do not what ill-consequences it will have. I am telling you this, then you will say we were not informed. The parents are insisting on a women coach, which is very fair," Kamat had told the state Legislative Assembly.
"There are many girls who are enrolled for swimming. There are small girls. Their parents unofficially complain to us. I don't want to take names. They want a woman coach for swimming. There is no woman coach for swimming," Kamat is also seen telling the Assembly.
Early on Sunday, Goa Police arrested Surajit Ganguly, after a 15-year-old national swimming champion accused him of molesting her. He has been charged with rape and under sections of the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act.
Speaking to IANS on Monday, Kamat, who also heads the Swimming Federation of India, insisted that parents of Goan girl swimmers had only informally "hinted" to him about the need to appoint women coaches for their wards.
"There were no specific complaints," Kamat said.
"Parents have been hinting at me, that they require a woman coach to look after the children especially girl students. Swimming is a sport where you come in contact with the coach, whatever said and done, because of the activity. Parents feel that when girl students are there, then it is advisable to have a woman coach," he said, adding that the government was already in the process of appointing a ladies coach after the scandal.
"Chief Minister (Pramod Sawant) has assured me that this would be taken up on priority," Kamat said.
When asked if a protocol needed to be evolved to keep predators in check in sports associations in the state, Kamat said: "Who imagines that some coach or somebody will...."
He also said, that parents normally do not leave the company of their children during training or even competitions.
"Normally in Goa, most of the swimmers are accompanied by their parents... Either the mother is at the pool or the father is at the pool. They even accompany them for nationals (tournaments). They do not leave them alone," Kamat said.