Panjab university coach, accused of sexual harassment, questioned at press meet ahead of Rugby tournamenthttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/pu-sports-coach-sexual-harassment-5424540/

Panjab university coach, accused of sexual harassment, questioned at press meet ahead of Rugby tournament

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Panjab university coach accused of sexual harassment questioned at press meet ahead of Rugby tournament
Panjab University. (File)

A Panjab University sports coach, who is facing complaints of sexual harassment, found himself facing media questions on the allegations against him on Monday when he took part in a press conference on a rugby tournament in Jalandhar. The tournament is to be hosted by GHG Khalsa College, Gurusar Sadhar, from October 30 to November 4.

The water sports coach, identified as Deepak Kumar, is also general secretary of the Rugby Football Association of Chandigarh.
A woman student from a PU-affiliated Ludhiana college has lodged two complaints against the coach with the Panjab University Against Sexual Harassment (PUCASH). The first was investigated by the university panel, but a reconciliation was reached after the coach apologised to the student and said he would not repeat his actions. The student lodged another complaint with PUCASH against him in September alleging that the harassment had not stopped and he was also intimidating and threatening her. The anti-sexual harassment panel is looking into the matter and will soon hold a meeting to discuss the case.

Deepak was questioned about the allegations at the Jalandhar press conference where he shared the stage with Sandeep Mosamkar, operational director of the Indian Rugby Football Association. The organisers of the tournament, however, said that they did not know anything about the pending case of sexual harassment against Deepak and could not act against him till the time the university resolved the matter. “We don’t have any idea about this matter. How could we know? I’m a technical director of the tournament and I cannot comment on this issue,” Mosamkar told Chandigarh Newsline, adding that Deepak came on board the association when he formed the rugby body in Chandigarh one-and-a-half years ago.

When asked if he had tried finding out the details of the charges against Deepak, Mosamkar further stated that he was unable to look into the matter at such a “short notice” as the tournament kicks off on Tuesday. When Chandigarh Newsline contacted Deepak, he claimed he had produced “national players”, adding, “Yes, an application has been put in. But no one knows what the result will be. I’ve not done anything. This is a misunderstanding and should be proved first.” He said he was only trying to help out students and PUCASH will decide the matter.

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Sources alleged that the student who came forward and complained was not the first to be sexually harassed by Deepak but others were scared to speak up.  The complainant, in her letter to PUCASH, said that despite reaching a conciliation after the first case, Deepak Kumar continued to “stalk and intimidate her”. She stated that he would regularly punish her and feeling pressured, she complained to her mother who then spoke to Deepak.

Explaining his stand to the complainant’s mother, Deepak told her that the student “was like his own sister”. However, the woman alleged that Deepak threatened to “destroy the careers of those who helped her lodge the first complaint”. She also stated in her complaint that the coach once again pressured her into “getting into a relationship with him and he will tell her about a special diet and give her extra coaching to make her a skilful player”.

PU has sent Deepak Kumar on long leave till December. Recently, PU expelled assistant professor Komal Singh of the public administration department who was found guilty in multiple cases of sexual harassment. The Senate on November 3 will also take a call on the termination of Dr Devinder Preet Singh of Dr HS Judge Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital. The dental college professor has been accused of sexual harassment in multiple cases. He is under suspension and getting half his salary.