File image of Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.© Twitter
Top Indian wrestlers including Olympian Vinesh Phogat, Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia raised a storm on Wednesday as they brought up some serious allegations against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and its president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. A teary-eyed Vinesh on Wednesday alleged that Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has been sexually exploiting women wrestlers for many years and sought the intervention of Prime Minister and Home Minister for his removal. Vinesh alleged that “national coaches molested female wrestlers over the years and were given death threats by WFI officials.”
“I know at least 10-12 women wrestlers who have told me about the sexual exploitation they faced at the hands of (the) WFI President. They told me their stories. I can’t take their names now but I can definitely reveal the names if we get to meet the Prime Minister and the Home Minister of the country,” Vinesh added while addressing the media after staging a four-hour dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
Sitting beside Vinesh, Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia said the federation is being run in an arbitrary manner and they will not compete in any international competition unless the WFI President is removed. In an unprecedented move, the country’s top wrestlers, gathered to protest against the “dictatorship” of the WFI President. “We will not compete in any international competition until WFI President is removed. This is a fight to save Indian wrestling,” Punia later said while addressing the media.
Brij Bhushan has been at the helm since 2011. He was elected President of WFI for the third consecutive time in February 2019. Brij Bhushan has, however, refuted all the allegations. “No truth in wrestlers’ allegations against me, I am ready to be hanged even if one sexual harassment case is proved,” the WFI chief Brij Bhushan said in a press conference. “I will not quit as WFI President but I am ready for investigation by CBI or police.”
“An industrialist is behind this conspiracy against me. Why Vinesh did not approach police if she received death threats,” he further alleged.
Rio Olympics medallist Sakshi Malik, world championship medallist Sarita Mor, Sangeeta Phogat, Satyawart Malik, Jitender Kinha and CWG medallist Sumit Malik were among 30 wrestlers who assembled at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday.
With PTI inputs
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