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AICF to probe Bengal Chess Association affairs

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Chennai, Aug 30: Condemning the attitude of Bengal Chess Association (BCA) Secretary International Master Atanu Lahiri, the All India Chess Federation (AICF) on Friday said it will initiate a probe into the affairs of state association.

In a statement, the AICF said: "The AICF will initiate a thorough enquiry into the affairs of Bengal Chess Association and its secretary Atanu Lahiri on the charges leveled by Dibyendu Barua. We will set up a committee soon to look in to the matter."

According to AICF, the press release is issued to condemn what has transpired in Bengal Chess which has been brought to notice through a press conference by Arjuna Awardee and India's second Grand Master (GM) Dibyendu Barua.

"The AICF strongly object to Bengal Chess Association passing on a resolution to not invite GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly and GM Deep Sengupta for any chess functions/activity," the statement issued by AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan said.

According to the Indian chess body, it was a unilateral decision of the office bearers of Bengal Chess and AICF has no clue about it till it was brought to its notice.

Stressing that it stands for its players, the AICF said: "Ganguly and Sengupta are kind of chess ambassadors who have brought so many laurels to our great nation. To try to sideline them is never our agenda and we strongly stand by all our players irrespective of their standing. All the chess players in the country are a part of AICF family. And anyone trying to damage their interests or goodwill will not be a part of AICF in any capacity."

The AICF also condemned BCA's decision to stop a nine year old Sneha Halder — the defending State and National U-9 champion — from participating in tournaments.

"The charges are again against Bengal Chess Association Secretary Atanu Lahiri and the AICF wishes to inform all involved that we do not approve of this. No player can be stopped from playing chess. This is the motto of AICF," a the statement said.

Referring to a mail from Lahiri that a certain tournament in Kolkata was not approved by the local association and hence cannot be organised, the AICF said he or anyone in any capacity in either AICF or any other state association or district association are not empowered to stop any chess tournament organised by anyone.

"Stopping chess activity is perceived as a serious offence by us in AICF," the statement said.

"The All India Chess Federation stands by the players of India and we all are highly motivated to make chess one of the key sport in India. There is no place whatsoever for anyone who indulges in activities that are not chess-friendly," the statement concluded.

On August 27, a normally reticent Barua took the Indian chess world by surprise by levelling various charges against Lahiri, including misuse of power as BCA Secretary and conflict of interest with regard to a West Bengal government project to teach chess to tribal students in the state.

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