Star wrestler and Olympic champion Vinesh Phogat led the wrestlers to stage a protest against the president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, at Delhi's Jantar, accusing him of sexual and mental harassment.
The protest that commenced on Wednesday (January 18) was called off on Friday (January 20) after the sports minister Anurag Thakur met the wrestlers and gave assurance of investigation. The sports ministry asked the WFI to submit its response as the allegations made by wrestlers against its president were critical.
After days of continuous protest in New Delhi by star wrestlers, the WFI finally submitted its response in which it denied all the accusations and mentioned that allegations made by wrestlers were an attempt to damage the image of federations and president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
The WFI reply to the sports ministry reads, "The manner and method of protestors/wrestlers to air their allegation by sitting at Dharna and also dong Press Conference certainly is part of a deeper and larger conspiracy for vested interest either by putting pressure on some weak wrestlers for vested interest or for gaining ground for themselves by maligning and defaming the management of WFI or its President or the Coaches and not otherwise," reported Times Now.
IOA Forms Committee To Probe Allegations
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) formed a seven-member committee on Friday (January 20) to probe the claims of sexual harassment against WFI president Singh. The committee, led by Mary Kom, includes Yogeshwar Dutt, Dola Banerjee, and Sahdev Yadav, among others.
According to officials, the committee has held several round meetings and is expected to call the concerned parties for further investigation. In a Tweet, the IOA President, P.T. Usha, wrote, "We will ensure a complete investigation to ensure justice. We also have decided to form a special committee to deal with situations that may arise for swifter action."
The wrestlers protesting at the Jantar Mantar wrote to the IOA on Friday (January 20) requesting to form a committee that can investigate the allegations. The wrestlers accused WFI of financial misappropriation in the letter and made four demands.
The wrestlers demanded an investigation committee that could look after the allegations of sexual harassment. Wrestlers also demanded the resignation of the WFI President and the dissolution of the WFI.
Lastly, the wrestlers requested the IOA to form a new committee to run the WFI affairs and operations in consultation with the wrestlers. They also mentioned that it required a lot of guts for them to protest against the sitting WFI president, and if he's not sacked, the career of all wrestlers who have joined the protest will be over.
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