Ashwin, son of BCCI president N Srinivasan, has accused his father of homophobia and of using his clout to unleash a cycle of violence against him and his partner Avi Mukherjee in order to ‘cure’ him of homosexuality.
Ashwin, 43, says he and his partner have been subjected to physical and mental torture at Srinivasan’s behest for years. He says the latest incident took place on April 30, when the police picked up the couple from an upmarket Bandra restaurant-pub Escobar and beat them with iron rods.
“My father is vehemently against homosexuality and has been asking me to change since 1998 when I came out to my parents,” Ashwin told DNA. “Things began to worsen when I fell in love with Avi in 1999. We have come close to losing our lives and sanity due to the constant physical and mental torture.”
DCP Pratap Dighaonkar says that the Bandra police arrived at Escobar on April 30 in response to a call from the restaurant-pub complaining that the couple had refused to pay their Rs28,000 bill.
According to him, the couple wanted drinks served beyond the 1.30am deadline and picked up a fight with the waiters when they refused. “They were detained after Ashwin punched a constable,” says Dighaonkar.
But the couple, who are in hiding now, trashed the police version and gave DNA photographs to show how brutally they were beaten up while in custody.
Avi told DNA that he met Escobar owner Rakesh Luthria at a suburban hospital. He says Luthria offered Avi and Ashwin a treat at his restaurant-pub which is how they landed up there on April 30.
They said they reached around 1am and were informed that final orders were being taken. “We asked them to call Rakesh, ordered two drinks and were told this was the last order. However, once done, the waiters were glad to ply us with more. With no sign of Rakesh, we ordered a few more drinks and a bottle of champagne which they suggested,” says Ashwin.
“We were taking it easy when the waiters began hassling us to pay the bill. I said we would once we were done, but they argued. I raised my voice saying they’d have to wait. Suddenly, as if on cue, 12 policemen sprang out from behind the bar armed with iron rods and started beating Avi mercilessly.”
They were taken to Bandra police station lock-up and allegedly beaten till they passed out. They got bail the next day.
The duo says that in Chennai in 2002 they were beaten up brutally and kept in solitary confinement. “I was kept in a dark room and administered drugs,” says Ashwin, adding that he then sought help from Ashok Row Kavi, a fact the gay rights activist confirmed.
“I feared for their lives and helped the duo flee the country to escape Ashwin’s father’s wrath,” says Kavi.
“My father has said openly that Avi is a parasite who has dragged me into homosexuality because he wants my money. Given his immense powers, it’s been very rough on Avi,” says Ashwin. He added that he picked up documents to expose how Srinivasan was misusing his (Ashwin’s) NRI status to launder money thinking it would protect Avi and him. “Instead, that has put us in more danger.”
Srinivasan refused to comment. “What is happening is a private family matter. I am not going to comment on that.” When questioned on the money-laundering charges, he said, “I still maintain I do not want to go public and make any comment. Children may make any kind of charge against parents. But as a parent one only wishes the child well and does what is good for him in the long run.”