West Bengal sports minister Madan Mitra on Wednesday alleged that gold medal winning athlete Pinki Pramanik was involved in a land scam as she had illegally sold a plot leased to her by the state government free of cost. But the former athlete denied any wrongdoing.
"The land was given to Pinki for building her personal residence and not for making profit. If she has sold it for making profit, that is illegal," the minister.
"Anybody who goes to the spot will see a five storey residence coming up there. One can find the name of the present owner from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation records," the minister said.
Pinki, however, denied the charge. "I have not sold off the land. I won it. A house is coming up there."
Pinki was on Wednesday freed after 26 days in judicial custody for allegedly raping her live-in partner, a divorcee and a mother of one. The victim had also made a similar allegation of land scam against the former athlete.
As per the minister's allegation, Pinki sold the three-cottah plot in the south eastern part of the city to former athlete Avtar Singh. He, in turn, sold it to a promoter.
Avtar Singh is the husband of former athlete Jyotirmoyee Sikdar, who won the 800 metre and 1,500 metre gold medals in the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games.
Jyotirmoyee, a former Communist Party of India-Marxist MP, had led the chorus of protests against the "harsh treatment" meted out to Pinki in custody.
The land was given to Pinki after her gold medal winning feat in the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar. The West Bengal Athletic Association had done the registration for the plot by spending Rs. 75,000.
Pinki's live-in partner alleged that the former athlete and Avtar Singh fell out over the sharing of the plot's sale proceeds.
She said Pinki bought a flat on the city's outskirts and a luxury car with the money the former athlete got by selling off the plot.
Avtar also said he was "not at all" involved in any deal concerning the plot.
Jyotirmoyee said: "My husband's name was being dragged into the matter as I had stood by Pinki. There is no truth in the allegation."
Mitra, known for making controversial comments, also said on a sarcastic note that when his government came to power in 2011, it had no idea that its priority should be to purchase equipment for gender determination tests.
"We were more concerned about repairing roads, increasing the number of buses, reopening closed factories and reducing unemployment," he said in a mocking tone.
In February, after an anglo-Indian woman alleged that she was raped on Park Street here, Mitra not only questioned the morality of the woman but went on to say that the complaint was fabricated to extort money.
Later, however, police arrested those allegedly responsible in the rape incident.