Wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Ravi Dahiya, and Deepak Punia on Friday wrote to PT Usha, President of the Indian Olympic Association on “sexual harassment” complaints against Wrestling Federation India chairman Brij Bhushan Saran Singh. In a letter to the IOA president Usha, the star grapplers accused the WFI chairman of sexual exploitation and financial irregularities.
The letter signed by Bajrang Punia, Phogat, Malik, Dahiya, and Deepak Punia demands the resignation of the WFI chief and the formation of an inquiry committee on the allegations of sexual harassment.
— Vinesh Phogat (@Phogat_Vinesh) January 20, 2023
On Thursday several ace wrestlers of the country including Phogat, Malik and Bajrang Punia participated in the sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar in the national capital, that began on Wednesday.
Wrestlers have levelled charges of sexual harassment of women wrestlers by the WFI president and its coaches and of mismanagement in the functioning of the federation. They demanded a complete overhaul of the federation.
Indian wrestler and Commonwealth Games medalist Vinesh Phogat on the first day of protest on Wednesday alleged that coaches who are favourites of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) misbehave with women and harass them. She also accused the wrestling federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexually harassing girls and calling her a ‘khota sikka’ after her defeat at Tokyo Olympics 2020.
On the sidelines of a sit-in protest against the WFI near Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, Phogat on Wednesday said, “Coaches are harassing women and some coaches, who are favourites of the Federation, misbehave with women coaches as well. They sexually harass girls. The WFI president has sexually harassed many girls.”
However, the WFI chief refuted the charges of sexual assault allegations made by the wrestlers against him on Wednesday.
Denying the claims by the wrestlers of their sexual assault, Singh said, “I read that the name of the chief coach has also been taken in sexual assault allegations. I also read that the reason for the players’ camp being held in Lucknow is so that they can be called at my home. I do have a home in Lucknow but I hardly reside there. My home is 120-130 kms away from Lucknow. All the sexual harassment allegations are false and I will commit suicide if they are found to be true. I tried to get in touch with the wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia but was unable to do so.”
Meanwhile, some wrestlers also had a late last night meeting with Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on the issue that stretched into the early hours of today.
Later in the day, under pressure to resign from his position over allegations of sexual exploitation of women wrestlers, WFI chairman Singh said he will “expose” the “political conspiracy” on Friday afternoon in a press conference.
Singh, who is also a BJP Lok Sabha MP from Kaiserganj in Uttar Pradesh, in a Facebook post said that he will hold a press conference at the Wrestling Training Centre in Nawabganj in Gonda district of the state.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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