Kolkata: A swimming coach in Goa was on Thursday booked for the rape of a national junior gold medallist after a purported video of the incident went viral on social media.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju also stepped in and promised stringent action against the accused after a Twitter user tagged him with screenshots from the video, demanding intervention.
Surajit Ganguly, who was employed by the Goa Swimming Association (GSA), was accused of molestation by a 15-year-old girl training under him. The harassment allegedly took place after he called her to the Mapusa centre in North Goa from West Bengal.
The girl alleged that during her six-month stay in Goa, Ganguly had mentally and physically tortured her. The matter came to light after her parents, who accompanied her to Goa, noticed that her performances were dipping and she was avoiding the coach.
When pressed further, she broke down and narrated the ordeal to her parents, who immediately went back to Bengal and tried to file a police complaint.
The girl took to social media after the police station in her hometown showed reluctance in lodging a complaint on the grounds that the incident had taken place in Goa.
“My coach used to touch me and physically assaulted me. I have decided to reveal this because I want to save many other girls who may have gone through the same ordeal. Shockingly, when I went to the police station, they told me to lodge a complaint with the Goa police,” she said in a Facebook post.
The GSA sacked the coach on Thursday. A case under Sections 376 (rape), 354 (molestation) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and Goa Children's Act was registered against Ganguly who is yet untraceable, said inspector Kapil Nayak of Mapusa police station.
"We have launched a search operation to track down the accused. Last we know is that he had left for Bhopal," said Deputy Superintendent of Police Gajanan Prabhudesai, adding that police have formed multiple teams to arrest the coach.
In a series of tweets, Rijiju promised that strict action will be taken against Ganguly.
“I’ve taken a strong view of the incident. The Goa Swimming Association has terminated the contract of coach Surajit Ganguly. I’m asking the Swimming Federation of India to ensure that this coach is not employed anywhere in India. This applies to all Federations & disciplines,” he said.
“Stringent action will be taken through Sports Authority. Firstly, it’s a heinous crime of serious nature so I’ll urge the Police to take stringent penal action against the coach urgently,” he further wrote.
I've taken a strong view of the incident. The Goa Swimming Association has terminated the contract of coach Surajit Ganguly. I'm asking the Swimming Federation of India to ensure that this coach is not employed anywhere in India. This applies to all Federations & disciplines. https://t.co/q6H1ixZVsi— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) September 5, 2019
The GSA confirmed that Ganguly’s contract has been terminated. “We terminated Surajit’s contract immediately after watching the video. Both the girl and the coach are from Bengal,” said GSA Secretary Syed Abdul Majid.
The GSA had appointed Ganguly to the Mapusa facility about two-and-a-half years ago. “We had appointed him because he had a good track record as a coach. There have been no prior complaints against him,” said Majid.
The Goa Legislative Assembly in 2017 had even moved a motion congratulating Ganguly and other coaches for bringing “pride and glory to swimming and diving sports and to the state”.
On Wednesday, based on the girl's statement, the Kolkata police lodged a complaint against Ganguly and transferred it to their counterparts in Goa.
“It is a serious matter. A complaint against the coach has been lodged by the girl’s father. We are investigating the matter and assured the family members that adequate action will be taken against the accused,” said Chandannagar police chief Humayun Kabir.
(With inputs from PTI)