Congress demands sports minister’s resignation in Uttarakhand
The Congress on Saturday demanded resignation of sports minister Arvind Pandey for his claim that sport associations often sexually harassed women and girlsdehradun Updated: Dec 30, 2017 19:57 IST
The Congress on Saturday demanded resignation of sports minister Arvind Pandey for his claim that sport associations often sexually harassed women and girls.
Congress state president Pritam Singh led a Congress delegation to the Raj Bhavan where the team condemned the “unrestrained claims made by Pandey without any evidence”. Women Congress members burnt Pandey’s effigy in Dehradun and demanded that he should prove his allegations or resign from his post immediately.
The opposition Congress, including its women wing, demanded that Pandey either resigns or be sacked by the government for “creating fear in the minds of women sportspersons”.
Pandey had recently stoked a controversy by claiming that he knew of alleged “sexual exploitation of women sportspersons by sports association officials”. Subsequently, there was a hue and cry by social media users demanding Pandey to ‘expose’ the officials rather than making claims.
Ironically, in 2004, the Congress itself was accused of brushing under carpet some sexual harassment complaints during the rule of the ND Tiwari government. HT has a copy of the complaints made by members of the handball team from a Doon school against sexual exploitation and misbehaviour by a coach and association officials.
The Uttaranchal Olympic Association issued a warning letter to the sports body and directed it to “rescind” the accused coach, but the matter eventually went into cold storage with the transfer of the coach.
Sarita Arya, president of the women wing of the Uttarakhand Congress, said she was unaware of what happened in the past but it was no time to look back and play a blame game. “It will do no good to our girls if we argue over these things...What matters is that no person sitting on a constitutional position has rights to make such baseless allegations. He should either come up with the entire truth or else his words will only create a scare among the girls and their parents. Players will not be able to pursue sports freely,” Arya told HT.
Meanwhile, Pandey said he did not want to make any comment on the Congress demand as it was “nothing but the Opposition party making a noise”. “My hands are tied due to Section 228 (of the IPC which prohibits disclosure of identity of sexual harassment victims)…Unless victims come forward on their own, I don’t want to spoil the family life (of the victims). My statement was actually a warning for other (sports association officials, coaches) who feel that they can get away with troubling our girls,” he said.
A sportsperson flayed both the main parties for “politicising” a matter which warranted a serious concern. “These ‘netas’ (political leaders) don’t have anything to do (with sportspersons’ concerns)…all they know is (how to) play politics on such a sensitive matter,” said a woman boxer. “What is really required is an independent mechanism to probe such allegations.”