NEW DELHI: India’s ace cricket body has dealt a severe blow to cricket columnist Boria Majumdar in the ugly spat with wicket-keeper batsman Wriddihman Saha, while making stunning disclosures that he insisted on interviews at exclusion of other journalists, even as now the body has banned him for two years on getting any accreditation as a member of the press in any of the cricket matches.
BCCI has charged Majumdar with coercion and intimidation in its findings even as it says it gave both parties an equal and fair opportunity.
The New Indian is in possession of the report.
These revelations are part of the report prepared by a three-member committee, comprising Rajeev Shukla, Vice President, BCCI, Arun Singh Dhumal, treasurer, BCCI, and Prabhtej Singh Bhatia, Councillor after hearing both Saha and Majumdar.
While Saha, accompanied by his wife Romy, was heard on March 5 in Delhi, Majumdar was heard on March 11.
“The player (Saha) mentioned that he did not appreciate the tone and the content of the messages. He further mentioned that the tone and the attitude of Majumdar have always been aggressive. He would insist on interviews at the exclusion of other journalists projecting himself as better than others. This heavy-handed attitude was something which had irked the player in the past as well. However, the threatening language and tone used on February 13, 2022, had crossed limits and he had decided to make it public so that the world can know how certain journalists are treating cricketers and create a precedent so that young and inexperienced players are not treated poorly by journalists,” the report on findings, while quoting Saha, says.
The report also says that while BCCI was hearing Saha on March 5, Majumdar suddenly took to Twitter, explaining his version of the events.
“On the same day, he also sent a written statement to the BCCI and requested the BCCI to hear his version of the events. The Committee, in light of the circumstances, thought it to be prudent to hear the views” the report says.
However, in its report, BCCI, while explaining the submission made by Majumdar on March 11, during the hearing, says he first made efforts to call the Whatsapp screenshots as doctored and then submitted that “the player (Saha) and Majumdar have known each other and have been friends for the last 12 years. Majumdar had also accused Saha of trying to gain sympathy, saying he released the 7-10 days old tweet on the day after the Indian team for the Sri Lanka series was released in which the Player (Saha) was not selected.
BCCI disagreed with Majumdar on all three counts.
“With respect to the submission of Majumdar regarding the player doctoring the screenshot of the WhatsApp messages, the Committee has gone through the messages from both the Player and Majumdar. The committee finds that merely blurring the date of the messages does not amount to doctoring the screenshot in the instant matter. The subject matter of the enquiry does not turn on whether the date was blurred or not. The content did not change. The Player did not alter the wordings in the messages whose screenshot was uploaded by the Player,” the findings say.
While slamming Majumdar in its conclusive remarks, BCCI said no cricketer in India can be coerced to give an interview and there has to be free will in this process even if there are friendly relations between the journalist and player.
“It becomes immaterial if the relationship between a journalist and a cricketer is that of a friend or not. It is a professional relationship and the cricketer is well within his rights to refuse an interview if he or she so desires. In this instance as well, it is the player’s prerogative, if he wanted to give an interview or not. Even assuming that the player and Majumdar were friends and had a long-standing relationship, this does not give Majumdar the right to demand an interview or coerce the Player to do an interview,” said the findings.
“Further, it is immaterial that the Player (Saha) posted the messages on social media a week after they were exchanged with the Player (Saha) or it was done on the day the Test team against Sri Lanka was announced. The fact remains that Majumdar sent those exact messages to the Player (Saha) which by themselves come off as threatening to any player,” the findings say.
In its report, BCCI has said it had got a letter from the President of the Indian Cricketers Association, Ashok Malhotra, requesting BCCI to investigate this matter.
And that it had decided on the following two issues: “1. The name of the journalist who had sent the messages to the Player? and 2. Whether the messages sent to the Player were in the nature of threat and intimidation?”
(Part two and part three of the story to follow. Keep reading newindian.in)