Former India women's hockey team captain Rekha Bhide on Thursday shot off a letter to the Sports Minister Jitendra Singh, complaining of harassment and defamation by Hockey India (HI) for refusing to tow to its Secretary General, Narinder Batra's line of thought.
"I am writing to you to bring to your kind attention the immense, unjust harassment that I am being subjected to by some officials of HI," Bhide wrote in the letter.
"Being a former international player and an Olympian, I had given my view regarding HI's decision to send a foreigner as the manager with the Senior Men's National team for London Olympics. I had also put forth certain suggestions regarding team manager, physio etc. for the national women's team.
"But since I was not towing Secretary General, Hockey India Dr. Narinder Batra's line, I am being singled out, harassed and defamed; so much for the democratic manner of HI's functioning," Bhide, a recipient of Arjuna Award and Maharashtra State Award Shiv Chhatrapati Award added.
Hockey India secretary General Narinder Batra, however, denied that she was being harrassed and said she was removed from the post after a three-member inquiry panel found her guilty.
Bhide, who also marked a copy of the letter to V K Malhotra and Randhir Singh, alleged that unconstitutional meeting was held to remove her as the President of the Hockey Maharashtra and vice-president of HI.
"I have served my country as an administrator where I was elected as the President of Women's Hockey Association of Maharashtra (WHAM), President of Hockey Maharashtra, an elected vice-president of HI and also as a national team selector.
"...an unconstitutional meeting was held to remove me as the President of the Hockey Maharashtra and to make an individual who is their associate as the President," she said.
"All this transpired without my knowledge and when I was out of the country on hockey assignment," Bhide added.
The former skipper insisted that it had enough reasons to believe that Batra was behind her ouster as she brought his irregularities to HI's notice.
Stating that Batra was using his political clout to harass her, Bhide urged the Sports Minister for a meeting with her and some international players.
"Can one individual tamper and change the constitution of a so-called national federation? How can an individual who has been in government service for more than 30 years and has international exposure as a sportsperson even think of being against any religion?," she asked.
"It seems Dr. Batra is using his political clout to continuously harass and defame me."
Batra, meanwhile, clarified his stand, saying Bhide was removed from her top posts after a three-member inquiry committee found her guilty on account of discrimination on religious grounds.
"There was an inquiry which happened on complains of one of the umpires of Pune who alleged discrimination on grounds of religion.
"HI had undertaken that it will not tolerate such discriminations as per its commitment to the world body. When the complain was brought to our notice, we formed a three-member committee to go into the matter and report back to the working board of HI," he said.
"The complainant as well as the witnesses were given an opportunity to present their case but she did not appear before the committee and instead gave a written submission.
"The committee found her guilty on the account of discrimination on religious grounds and recommended her removal from the post of vice-president of HI and President of Hockey Maharashtra," explained Batra.
Batra said that Bhide would get another chance to present her case on June 11 in Delhi.
"She has been given another opportunity to present her case on June 11 in Delhi and the working board of HI will take a final decision, which will be binding," Batra said.