New Delhi: Stung by allegations of sexual harassment, Indian women’s hockey coach M K Kaushik on Wednesday resigned from the post as the hockey establishment launched a thorough probe into the sex scandal which has rocked the national game.
A day after the sex scandal came to light, Kaushik stepped down as the head coach and vowed to clear his name, saying the allegations were baseless and he was a victim of “big-time conspiracy”.
Hockey India also sacked videographer Basavraj whose photographs with prostitutes during the recent Canada and China tour were sent to HI through an anonymous e-mail.
“Kaushik has submitted his resignation to Hockey India Interim President Vidya Stokes. The president will take a decision,” said Narinder Batra, HI Secretary General.
Assistant coaches Vasu Thapliyal and Mohd. Khalid Modi will now be in-charge of the team for the Asian Champions Trophy in South Korea from July 27.
The Sports Ministry has also taken note of the incident and said it will look into the matter.
Batra said the four-member panel, comprising Rajiv Mehta, Zafar Iqbal, Ajitpal Singh and Sudarshan Pathak, will submit its report to Hockey India on Friday. HI, in turn, will make its recommendations to Sports Authority of India.
“The panel heard all the parties and they have sought time till tomorrow to make their replies. The panel will submit to us their report on Friday and we will proceed from there,” he said.
Batra, however, said Hockey India has no power to take action against the videographer or any other coaching staff in connection with the scandal which came out in the open after a written complaint by one of the fringe players Ranjita Devi.
“We will submit our report with recommendations to the SAI which can take action according to the government service rules. The coach or the videographer are not working under us. They are employees of SAI.
“I have taken legal advice also. Nobody is guilty until proved. But, ultimately it is the job of SAI what action to be taken against anybody who is found guilty,” Batra said.
Asked how many players signed the letter to HI alleging sexual harassment of a woman player, Batra said, “Besides the player, 31 other players signed the letter supporting her.”
Kaushik, on his part, maintained that he was innocent and was confident of coming out clean after the inquiry.
“The allegations are all baseless. I am innocent. I am confident of coming out clean because I believe in truth and the truth will prevail,” said Kaushik, who has been involved with the women team for close to 20 years.
“She (complainant) made the allegations out of frustration. Please look at her performance since the Junior World Cup onwards, I don’t think she deserves a place in the team on merit.
“I am deeply hurt because my image has been damaged. All these years I have worked with full sincerity. But I have submitted my resignation because after all this I won’t be able to give my 100 per cent to the team.”
Asked whether he will return to the job if his name is cleared of all the charges, he said, “If you ask me now I don’t think I will be able to coach the team again. But if my department (Haryana Sports Department) forces me I will think over it.”
“If you ask all the players individually the truth will come out. If feel the players have been pressurised to sign the letter and its time Hockey India got to the bottom of the story otherwise these sort of incidents will continue to happen.”
One of the panel members Zafar Iqbal, however, almost absolved Kaushik of any wrongdoing saying that the case of the woman player “was not a strong one” and her complaints were sometimes “dicey”.
“According to me it appears that the case is not a very strong one. It should have been sorted out much earlier. It had been going on for around six months. I am not defending anybody, who are guilty will come out soon.
“But the coach (Kaushik) has been attached with the women’s team since 1991 and no complaint had come earlier. He also played hockey with us and we know him. Sometimes her allegations are very dicey,” said the former captain.
Meanwhile, Indian Hockey Federation chief KPS Gill said HI was trying to hush up the matter.
“There should be a proper police inquiry into it. The Supreme Court has stated that whenever a lady makes a sexual harassment allegations, her complaint should be taken on face value,” he said.
“This inquiry is an eyewash. It should be handed over to the police. I know these people, at the end of the inquiry they will come out and say, nothing happened,” he alleged.