Blackburn Rovers' boss in assault probe

First published in News
Last updated

ONE of Blackburn Rovers’ Indian bosses has vigorously denied allegations he assaulted one of the family’s employees on the sub-continent.

Balaji Rao, a director of Venky's (India) Limited, was interviewed by police in Pune after the company’s former food and beverages manager claimed he was hit with an iron rod and given electric shocks.

The Ewood Park board member and three others were called into Chatushrungi police station after 42-year-old Madhav Bhoja Shetty lodged a police complaint.

Mr Rao has denied he was even present at the time and place where the alleged assault is claimed to have happened.

An officer at the police station said: “Mr Rao came in and saw a senior inspector who took a statement from him. He has been asked to return at a later date.”

A spokesman for Venky’s said the allegations were completely false.

The company said that Mr Shetty had been sacked from the company after allegations were made against him of stealing.

They claimed he was making up allegations as some kind of revenge for being fired.

The spokesman said the family and the club were fully aware of the complainant’s allegations which were contained in an article published in The Times of India.

The newspaper reported that Mr Shetty, who had worked Venkateshwara Hatcheries Pvt Ltd, alleged he was thrashed at the company's guest house in the early hours of April 8.

He lodged a complaint against Rao, Amit Roplekar, and Rao's bodyguards Veeru Thapa and Prem Thapa, on Thursday May 1.

Mr Rao, one of the co-owners of Blackburn Rovers, told the Times of India that he was not in Pune at the time when Shetty alleged he had been assaulted.

It quotes him as saying: "I had gone to Hyderabad and returned the next day. On the day of my return, I left for Mumbai from where I took a chartered flight to London.

"All this is an attempt to tarnish my name.

“The fact is that we have been keeping a watch on him for the last five years as he was involved in theft in the marketing department. I was told to take action against him.

“We decided to sack him.”

It is understood Mr Rao was interviewed under several sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Venky’s completed its £23million takeover of Blackburn Rovers in November, 2010.

The firm established Venky’s London Ltd as a holding company to complete the buyout of 99.9 per cent of the club’s shares.

Anuradha Desai is the figurehead of the firm, with brothers Venkatesh and Balaji Rao – the other two key figures in the ownership of Rovers – as her deputies.

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