Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar on Sunday said he never wanted land to build a cricket academy inside IIT-Delhi, on a day media reports claimed the institute’s director had quit over government pressure to provide land and salary dues of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.
In messages posted on his Facebook and Twitter account, the cricketer said he hadn’t “planned any academy” nor “wanted any piece of land for any purpose”.
“Wish that basic facts are checked from me before publishing such fiction using my name,” Tendulkar tweeted.
I have not even planned any academy neither do I want any piece of land for any purpose.— sachin tendulkar (@sachin_rt) December 28, 2014
HRD minister Smriti Irani retweeted a screeenshot of Sachin's clarification.
A newspaper report had said IIT-D director Raghunath K Shevgaonkar quit over pressure from the human resource development ministry to accept two demands – provide land for Sachin’s academy and pay nearly Rs. 70 lakh to former faculty Swamy, as salary dues between 1972 and 1991.
The government accepted Shevgaonkar’s resignation was under process, but denied any connection with Tendulkar or Swamy, who said he had sent a legal notice to the newspaper.
The BJP, however, hit out at the director, with party national secretary Shrikant Sharma saying, “There have been charges against Shevgaonkar in relation to his alleged interests in Mauritius. These should be probed by an independent agency.” The IIT-director didn’t respond to HT’s messages on the charges.
In a release, the HRD ministry said Shevgaonkar’s resignation will go for approval to the President.
“There is neither any request from Sachin Tendulkar for the ground of IIT for running a cricket academy nor any instruction from the ministry to provide the same. The ministry has neither forwarded Mr Swamy’s request to IIT-Delhi nor given any direction to make payment of arrears to Mr. Swamy. Views of DoPT and finance ministry have been sought on the matter,” the statement said.
Amid the fracas, outrage and anxiety marked the reaction from former faculty members and alumni of the institute.
"IIT needs vibrant Stanford-like startup eco-system more than Tendulkar cricket academy. Full support to the director for standing his ground. The country needs more such professors to morally guide the society," said IIT-D graduate Sanjeeva Shivesh.
Another IIT-D gradutate, Ankur Lal, had a similar view. "Providing autonomy to IITs is critical. Both the issues indicate lack of autonomy. Scaling IIT and education is critical in light of faculty and other issues. The government must explicitly support the director to accelerate deciaion making and growth."
Following Sachin’s tweets, the newspaper issued a clarification and removed all references to the ace batsman in its report.
"Oops. A clarification:-
IIT sources had told TOI that there was pressure on the director to give land for Sachin Tendulkar's cricket academy. However, Tendulkar has strongly denied that this is the case. In fact, he has said he has no plans for a cricket academy. We are sorry to have carried the news on the basis of sources which have been reliable in the past and didn't check with Tendulkar. We are sorry for this. We are also removing all mentions of this from the story."
(With inputs from HTC, Delhi)