The alleged sexual harassment of junior wrestlers is emerging as a case to frame one of the coaches - Ajit Maan or Vishnu Das -by 'forces' in the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).
Of the four wrestlers who levelled harassment charges in writing, two of them denied their involvement and claimed that their signatures had been faked.
"I always sign in English, and my signature on the complaint letter is in Hindi," said one the wrestlers, Lalita, who deposed before the probe committee headed by Rachna Govil, regional director of the Sports Authority of India, here on Monday. "All the four signatures on the complaint are signed by one individual and this can be verified by a writing expert," Lalita told HT.
The other girl too, in a faxed message to the sports ministry, echoed a similar sentiment. The other two wrestlers are also expected to depose before the committee in a day or two.
No truth to it
"Coach sir is like my uncle and I have no complaint against him. My name is being dragged into this to defame me and deny me a chance to participate in future events," said Lalita, who won bronze at the Asian Junior Championship in Kazakhstan last week.
Sources confirmed that Maan's passport had allegedly been stolen before he left for Kazakhstan. "It was surprising that only one passport (Maan's) was stolen from the packet, which also contained the passports of the wrestlers," said the source, adding, "It seems that somebody didn't want Mann to go for the Asian Championship."
WFI chief, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, termed the incident a conspiracy to defame the body. "It's an attempt to defame the game . All the four girls have told me that nothing of this sort took place during the camp and the complaint against the coach is fake," he said.
"I wonder why this investigation is being done when all the wrestlers have given their version in favour of the coach. All this hue and cry is harming the sport and the federation's image," he added.
"Instead of leaking the matter to the media, the officials should have checked the authenticity of the complaint," said the WFI chief. One of the coaches was suspended soon after the eight-member girls' team returned after winning two gold, one silver and five bronze.
The squad included Indu Chaudhary and Sakshi Malik (gold), Pooja Danda (silver), Lalita, Ritu Malik, Seema, Ruby Chaudhary, and Kiran (bronze).
Mann and Das were accused of sexual harassment during the national camp (April 30-May 25) of the India under-19 team here.
The complaint, filed on May 16 with the sports minister, stated that on the night of May 15, one of the coaches forcibly entered the room of a wrestler.
After the girl raised an alarm, her teammates locked the room from outside. The coach allegedly threatened the girls and even used foul language. The complaint said the coach had also passed objectionable remarks during training.