Dahiya, not Sachin wanted centre in IIT

'Smriti's pressure tactics led to quitting of director'

Not ace cricketer Sachin Tendulkar but it was former Indian test player and Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan-owned Indian Premier League (IPL) team Kolkata Knight Riders’ assistant coach Vijay Dahiya who wanted to open a centre of excellence for cricket at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi.

IIT Director Raghunath K Shevgaonkar, who resigned last week amid allegations that Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani was pressurising him to reach an out-of-court settlement with former faculty member and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy to clear the latter’s back wages and benefits with interest, came in the line of fire as Dahiya was made to wait at the institute when he went to discuss his cricket academy proposal in November.

Although a senior HRD ministry official denied it, sources said Irani summoned Shevgaonkar and took him to task about 20 days back. “The director was first asked why he made Dahiya wait for four hours, and was humiliated in front of a senior official of the ministry. The minister also raised the issue of clearance of Swamy’s dues, and asked the director if he wanted to continue or not,” sources said.

A senior official of the HRD Ministry, however, claimed Dahiya might have gone on his own to the IIT with his proposal. The Ministry was neither aware of it nor recommended Dahiya’s case to IIT for consideration. But sources said “Instructions were given verbally to examine Dahiya’s proposal.”

Efforts to contact Dahiya were in vain. An SMS sent to his mobile phone, seeking his response, remained unanswered till the time this story was filed.

Though the IIT officials were divided on allowing a centre of excellence for cricket as it might require construction of a permanent structure on the campus, a meeting was held by the director at the institute on December 5  and it was decided that his proposal could be tried out for six months.

The institute agreed that Dahiya could use its playground only between 10 am and 4 pm, sources said.Sources said that post December 5 meeting, Dahiya was invited and taken around the campus.

While Shevgaonkar was firm on quitting, it has caused much resentment among the faculty, staff and students. At a meeting of faculty forum on Monday, teachers expressed their solidarity with the IIT director.

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