Former Karate Association of India vice-president Bharat Sharma has sent a legal notice to Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra, accusing the IOA chief of making "untrue" and "culpably defamatory statement" against him during an alleged telephonic showdown with a KAI official.
The four-page legal notice by Sharma, which is in possession of PTI, demands an unconditional apology from Batra within 48 hours. Batra, on his part, had issued a statement on Sunday calling the alleged audio clip of his heated conversation with KAI general secretary Ambedkar Gupta, which has been widely circulated on WhatsApp, "a mischievous act to reflect misleading facts made with the ulterior motive of projecting me in poor light."
It is the latest episode in the infighting that has marred IOA ever since Batra and his secretary general Rajeev Mehta were locked in a bitter turf war. The legal notice sent by Sharma's lawyer, Advocate BK Wadhwa, accuses Batra of using "untrue, false, defamatory, mocking and filthy words" against Sharma.
The notice also states that "It is pertinent to state that you addressee have even gone to the length of blackmailing Sh Ambedkar Gupta who has raised voice against your oppressive actions and policies by stating that you addressee shall finish him from sporting world and no one would dare to grant any recognition to his association in near future."
In his Sunday statement, Batra had urged all IOA affiliates to stop the infighting.
The public spats between IOA officials had earlier reached the doorsteps of the IOC and the world hockey body - the FIH - with a few officials questioning Batra's election as president of both the IOA and the FIH.
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The power tussle between the key officials of the IOA began when Batra told Mehta that he wants to take over a few responsibilities from him to "share his burden". It gradually reached a level where vice-President Sudhanshu Mittal sought an international inquiry into Batra's election, a demand that was rejected by the IOC as well as the FIH.
Batra and Mehta have also been giving opposing views on the resumption of sporting activities in the country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While Batra expects the action to resume by October, Mehta is less optimistic and has asserted that athletes shouldn't be rushed back to training or competition given the rising cases in the country.