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Chennai, Nov 28: India's second chess Grandmaster (GM) and Arjuna Awardee Dibyendu Barua on Thursday called for the resignation of the three-member probe committee that did not find any wrong deeds in Bengal Chess Association (BCA).
"The probe committee gave a clean chit to BCA Secretary Atanu Lahiri without contacting in person any of the parties who had lodged a complaint. Now the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has asked AICF to refund Rs 10 lakh, saying the funds utilisation certificate submitted by BCA was a forged one," Barua told IANS.
AICF President P.R. Venketrama Raja in September had constituted the three-member enquiry committee to probe the various allegations, including conflict of interest, levelled by Barua against Lahiri.
The probe committee was headed by AICF Vice President A. Narasimha Reddy, while the other two members were Vice President D.V. Sundar and Treasurer Kishor Bandekar.
Sundar is also the Vice President of FIDE, the global chess body.
On October 10, the probe committee gave its report to Raja.
The issue of forgery was first raised with the AICF by a person called Asist Baran Choudhury. Later Barua had told the AICF that he had received a complaint on the matter which was already with the Federation.
In its report, the probe committee had observed: "The complainant has not forwarded the complaint received by him. Further, the documents placed before the committee does not disclose that any forgery has taken place with regard to the signature."
Interestingly, it is this matter that has now come to haunt AICF with SAI telling it that it had submitted a forged utilisation certificate for Rs 10 lakh granted earlier.
According to SAI, it had received the bills from AICF relating to the 44th National Sub-Junior and 35th National Sub-Junior girls' chess championships organised in West Bengal from July 17-25, 2018, by the BCA.
"Based on a complaint received, the matter was examined as such clarification was sought from M/s Asraful Islam & Co, Chartered Accountants, which has supposedly signed the Utilisation Certificate (UC) of AICF. In response, M/s Asraful Islam & Co replied that the UC submitted by AICF is false and the seal and signature does not belong to them," SAI said in the letter to the AICF Secretary.
The SAI in its letter dated November 26 has asked the AICF President to set up a three-member enquiry committee to probe the issue and submit a report.
That apart, the SAI has also asked AICF to submit the details of all national championships held since 2014, including the host unit, amount sanctioned by SAI and whether funds sanctioned by SAI were diverted to third party other than the state chess federation to conduct such championships.
Barua in an open letter to AICF President Raja said the probe committee formed by him used all its power to safeguard Lahiri.
"The committee was biased from day one. The so called 'clean chit' was not given in the (AICF) central council meeting held on October 15, 2019 in the day-time. During the meeting, it was conveyed to the members that the matter regarding Atanu Lahiri is 'subjudice' and no decision was taken.
"However, on the same night, the Committee's final report was sent for distribution to all the states," Barua said.
The Indian GM told Raja that the committee collectively failed in its responsibility and should submit their resignations to the latter.
"Sir, I am marking a copy of this letter to all the associations as an open letter of my concerns for the game of chess in my country. I hope the right-minded people will take the best approach. I look up to you and your judgment now," Barua said in his letter.