It seems that the crimes of sexual harrassment do not stop at anything, do not respect the sanctity of any kind of relationship. Barely a month after horrific news emerged about the brutal rape and murder of an 8-year old, the relationship between a coach and a student has now been tainted across the regional centres of the Sports Authority of India with multiple incidents being reported and acted upon. A coach in the Tamil Nadu centre has been dismissed after multiple complaints against him.
As if that was not enough, Tamil Nadu is not the only state to be rocked by such allegations and incidents. Reportedly, news has been coming in from junior campers in Gujarat as well about multiple incidents involving a particular coach there. In both cases, the complains have come from multiple junior national campers which immediately gives a sense of how grave the issue actually is.
According to our sources, the coach has been accused of telling the campers that their national careers would end if they failed to comply with his demands for sexual favours. A prolonged stretch of such events prompted at least 15 of these junior athletes to submit a letter to SAI headquarters in broken English. Following this, Neelam Kapur, the director general of SAI took action.
The case was then referred to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and an employee was assigned to investigate the matter and get to the bottom of it.
It was further revealed that the coach then threatened the girls who had complained against him once he found out but quick action took its course. He was found guilty and consequently sacked and made an example of. This prompt action is hoped to serve as a deterrent to future incidents of this sort.
Additionally, there has been an investigation launched against a coach in SAI Gujarat for similar complaints where a high-level enquiry has already been called for. If the accusations are found to be true, the coach in question would be sacked in this case as well. The investigation is pending a result. The case in SAI Bengaluru allegedly involved an accountant sending lewd messages to a woman coach at the centre.
The young girls who did reach out with a complaint to SAI headquarters have been hailed for taking this courageous step. However, action must also be taken in the form of preventive measures and, for that, awareness remains the first step. According to our sources, Director General of SAI Neelam Kapur has ensured a quick redressal policy which will ensure quick action being taken against all the complaints that reach the administration. There is talk of launching an awareness programme on harassment and other such steps to make sure that the relationship between athlete and coach remains untainted.
It has also been learnt that the Sports Ministry is in the process of setting up a nation-wide call centre which will be regularly reaching out to national campers for updates on the food and living facilities at regional SAI centres. This should be operational within a few months.