Manjot Kalra, the Man of the match in India’s U-19 team’s World Cup winning final game in New Zealand last year, is a year older than he claims to be, according to Delhi Police’s special investigation unit of the crime branch that is probing several cases of age fudging among those playing junior cricket in the capital.
According to the chargesheet filed before the chief metropolitan magistrate, Tis Hazari Courts, Kalra’s original date of birth is January 15, 1998 and not January 15, 1999 as indicated in the BCCI records. Since the player wasn’t an adult at the time the FIR was filed, his parents — Parveen Kumar and Ranjit Kaur — have been named in the charge sheet. Parents of 11 other players who like Kalra obtained false birth certificates from municipal authorities to be eligible for lower-age groups too were found guilty by Delhi Police and find a mention in the chargesheet.
The Delhi Police found discrepancies in Kalra’s date of birth when they scrutinised records of the two schools the cricketer had been registered. It also found that he got his passport renewed after securing a false birth certificate.
According to the chargesheet a false affidavit was submitted by the parents to get his birth certificate date changed by a year.
“It is crystal clear that the date of birth of Manjot Kalra has been fudged/changed by his parents in order to give him undue benefit of playing with the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA). It is proved beyond doubt that the birth certificate of Manjot Kalra has been fudged/changed by his parents,” the chargesheet states.
The cricketer’s father, however, denied that his son’s age had been fudged. “When he was first admitted in school, the entry made by a relative was wrong and we later got it corrected. His correct year of birth is 1999,” Parveen said on Wednesday.
Another prominent cricketer whose birth certificates were allegedly forged when playing Under-15 cricket is Nitish Rana, the middle-order batsman who has played 30 first-class matches for Delhi. The 25-year-old has also been on the roster of the Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders. “It is proved without any doubt that the birth certificate submitted for Nitish Rana at the time of applying with the DDCA is forged. The whole of the above episode was directed by Dara Singh Rana (father) to give undue and undeserving benefit to his son to play with DDCA,” the chargesheet states, adding that the cricketer was a juvenile at the time of the forgery.
The parent/parents of the following cricketers have also been named in the chargesheet: Harsh Tyagi, Ankit Pratap Singh, Harshit Sethi, Raja Khan, Bharat Gupta, Prasant Bhandari, Prateek Kaushik and Sarang Rawat. Cricketer Deepak Khatri has been chargesheeted as he was not a juvenile at the time of falsification of age proof documents
The chargesheet also names current DDCA secretary Vinod Tihara who was the convenor of the sports working committee of the state cricket unit, also the owner of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Cricket Club where cricketers found to be over-aged played and was also part of the management of the Vidya Jain Public School where they studied. “He (Tihara) has been elected as member of the sports working committee (SWC) since 2004. The ten elected members of the SWC selected him as convenor of the SWC. Panel of selectors for different age groups are selected by the executive committee on the recommendations of the SWC… From the above investigation it is evident that Vinod Tihara showed rosy pictures to the parents of Manjot Kalra and it was under his allurement they fudged the birth date of their son, get (sic) him admitted to Vidya Jain Public School with birth certificate fudged, which was later on used and submitted with the DDCA on the instructions of accused Vinod Tihara,” the chargesheet stated.
Based on former India cricketer Kirti Azad’s complaint FIRs were filed in 2014 and 2015 alleging age manipulation by cricketers and their parents in order to make them eligible to play in the Under-16 and Under-19 category.
Former India captain Rahul Dravid while delivering the 4th MAK Pataudi Memorial lecture in 2015 had spoken about the malpractice of age fraud and equated it with fixing and corruption. “I think of this overage business as dangerous and even toxic and to me, gives rise to a question: If a child sees his parents and coaches cheating and creating a fake birth certificate, will he not be encouraged to become a cheat? He is being taught to lie by his own elders. At 14, it may be in the matter of the age criteria, at 25 it may be fixing and corruption. How are the two different in any way? In both cases, is it not blatant cheating?” Dravid, the current Under-19 coach, had said.