Entrepreneur Ranjit Bajaj, owner of I-League club Minerva Punjab FC, alleged on Monday that Indian Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Kushal Das assaulted employees in the workplace, a charge emphatically denied by the national body and its senior official.
Bajaj, who sold Minerva Punjab FC in 2020 after owning it for seven years, said there were “two cases of employee assault in the workplace” and that the head of the committee dealing with sexual harassment complaints to the AIFF was “forced by President Praful Patel to bury the report”.
“…Kushal Das RESIGN OR I will reveal details about you who were buried by @praful_patel #METOO #metooindia enuf is enuf,” Bajaj tweeted.
“…two cases of molestation of his employees in the workplace…head of AIFF’s Mandatory (Mandatory) Sexual Harassment Complaints Officer and he was forced to bury @praful_patel’s report.”
….cont …Kushal Das RESIGN OR I will reveal details about you who were buried by @praful_patel #ME TOO #metooinde enuff it’s enuf-you’re a freak that needs to be stopped-no longer will you allow yourself to ruin lives like this-see @jaydeepbasu tweets about it… continued
— Ranjit Bajaj (@THE_RanjitBajaj) April 25, 2022
Later, speaking to PTI, Bajaj said, “I am not making any allegation against the federation. It’s against an individual and he can go to court, make an affidavit. Whether he offers a denial, he must respond personally instead of using the Aiff PR machinery.
Das said no such complaint has reached the AIFF committee in the past 10 years.
“There is always a women’s cell within the AIFF to look into any type of allegations like these and there have been no such allegations in the last 10 years,” Das told PTI. .
“But that the women’s cell look into the allegations he has made and report back before I say anything and before the executive committee makes a decision.”
The AIFF, for its part, backed its senior official and said it would take “appropriate legal action against the person concerned.”
“All statements and allegations made are false and fabricated, and made without an iota of supporting evidence. Further, no such complaints and/or concerns have been received by the internal complaints committee constituted by AIFF pursuant to the PoSH Act 2013,” AIFF said in a statement.
“AIFF follows a strong ethical code of conduct within the organization, ensuring the protection and well-being of all its staff members.
“The allegations made by Mr. Bajaj are defamatory in nature causing harm not only to Mr. Das but also to the entire football fraternity in India. appropriate justice against the person concerned.”
The AIFF said it will also refer the matter to the Executive Committee, as well as the AGM for appropriate action.
Jyotsna Gupta, the current head of the Internal Complaints Committee, said she or her panel had not received any complaints against Das or any AIFF official.
“As head of the committee, I have not received any report (of sexual harassment) against the general secretary or against any AIFF official,” Gupta said.
“It was a shock to me that someone made such allegations against the GS. The workplace at AIFF is safe and secure for women.
Shantha Gopinath, who headed the committee before Gupta took over last year, said she had not received any complaints against Das.
Nandini Arora, project manager of the local organizing committee for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022, also said that the female staff at the LOC had not encountered any problems working with Das.
After selling Minerva Punjab FC, which now competes in the I-League as Roundglass Punjab FC, Bajaj now manages Minerva Academy Football Club in Mohali. He has a history of run-ins with the AIFF, which suspended him for a year in 2018 after he was found “guilty” of making racist remarks against a referee.
In 2019, AIFF reprimanded Bajaj for his harsh comments against AIFF on social media.