A 19-year-old female cricketer has alleged that she was sexually harassed by the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA) joint secretary Alpesh Shah on September 23.
Acting on a complaint lodged by the girl’s father, the MPCA has formed a four-member probe committee to look into the matter.
The incident comes amidst the nationwide debate over the alleged sexual assault on a journalist by Tarun Tejpal, the editor-in-chief of Tehelka, during the Think festival in Goa earlier this month as well as allegations of sexual harassment by a Supreme Court judge on an intern.
In a complaint lodged with MPCA, the victim’s father said that his daughter had gone to Shah’s room on September 23 and while she touched Shah’s feet he tried to molest her. The cricketer then ran out of the room and complained to her father.
“The MPCA have formed four-member probe panel to look into the matter and the committee will submit its report in 15 days,” said association chairman MK Bhargava, a member of the probe committee. Besides Bhargava, the other members of the committee are MPCA secretary Narendra Menon, BCCI former secretary Sanjay Jagdale and association CEO Rohit Pandit.
Responding to the allegations levelled by the player, MPCA officials claimed that there might be “some misunderstanding” between the complainant and the MPCA office-bearer.
According to a senior MPCA member, Shah had called the complainant to give her “blessings”.
A MPCA source said that it was a normal practice that whenever the team performed well, members use to encourage them by patting them and bless them to do well in the future. “Shah did the same without any ill intention,” said a MPCA office-bearer, preferring anonymity.
“However, the matter was settled at that time after Shah tendered unconditional apology to the player for his act,” the official said.
But recently, the girl and her parent sent a mail to the MPCA president and asked for probe into the matter.
On the delay in probe, the MPCA official said that members of probe panel were busy with BCCI assignments and were out of city. “Now they are back, the probe will begin,” he said.
The MPCA heard Shah’s version while the complaint of the girl is being taken as her statement.
“We will ask both the parties and once again cross-examine both the statement in front of both the parties and then only decide the future course of action,” Bhargava said.