Days after alleging that sports associations in the state had “sexually exploited” several sportswomen, Uttarakhand Sports Minister Arvind Pandey softened his stance on Wednesday, saying he would not take any legal action against the wrongdoers since “the victims are not ready for probe”.
“The victims have told me about the harassment they faced by the sports associations. But, they (the victims) are now married… I can bring the victims in public to prove the allegations that I recently made, but that might ruin their marriages,” Pandey said.
In a recent video that went viral in social media, the sports minister was seen saying that he would “register a case under Section 376 of IPC (punishment for rape) against the members of the sports associations who (allegedly) sexually assaulted several sportswomen”. In the video, Pandey can be seen saying, “I have the required proof… I’ll spoil the lives of the people who spoiled the lives of the budding sportspersons.”
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Pandey said, “Till the victims aren’t ready to come to the fore with the allegations of sexual harassment, I won’t take any legal action in the matter.” Pandey, however, sounded a note of caution to the culprits and said his remarks should be considered a warning.
Reacting to the minister’s statements, Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress Committee chief Pritam Singh urged Pandey to take action against the people who sexually exploited the sportswomen. “He (Pandey) has alleged that the sexual harassment of sportswomen happened during the (previous) Congress government… But, this isn’t about the party in power during the time of the (alleged) harassment cases. The Congress urges the BJP to take action against the people who sexually exploited the sportswomen,” Singh said.
Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand State Commission for Women has written to Chief Minister Trivendra Rawat asking him to probe the matter raised by Pandey. The commission’s chairperson Sarojni Kaintyura confirmed the development to The Indian Express. “We have written to the CM asking him to set up a probe in the matter of (alleged) sexual harassment of sportswomen. We’ve asked him to send us the findings of the probe, and to take strict action against the ones found guilty,” she said.