Sports Minister Anurag Thakur will be meet wrestlers at 10 pm on Thursday over sexual harassment allegations against wrestling body officials. The country’s ace wrestlers on Thursday continued their protest against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) over allegations of sexual exploitation of multiple athletes over the years by the federation chief and several coaches stating that they will continue to protest until their demands are met. “Today is the second day of our protest and we haven’t got any satisfactory response from the government. We will make sure Brij Bhushan Singh resigns and is jailed. We will also file a case,” wrestler Vinesh Phogat said while addressing the media at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
Vinesh Phogat had previously alleged that coaches who are favourites of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) misbehave with women wrestlers and harass them. She also accused the WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexually exploiting women athletes and calling her a ‘khota sikka’ after her defeat at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Singh has denied the allegations.
The Union Sports Ministry has sought an explanation from WFI and directed it to furnish a reply within the next 72 hours on the allegations made. The centre, in a statement on Wednesday, has made it clear that if the WFI does not respond in the next three days, the sports ministry “will proceed to initiate action against the federation in terms of the provisions of the National Sports Development Code, 2011.”
“Taking cognizance of the protest staged by wrestlers, including Olympic and CWG medalists, in Delhi today and a press conference in which wrestlers have levelled serious charges of sexual harassment of women wrestlers by the President and coaches of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and of mismanagement in the functioning of the federation, the Sports Ministry has sought an explanation from WFI and directed it to furnish a reply within the next 72 hours on the allegations made. In its communication to WFI, the Ministry has stated that “since the matter pertains to the well being of athletes, the Ministry has taken a very serious view of the matter.” the sports ministry said in the statement.
“The Ministry has further stated that if WFI fails to furnish the reply within the next 72 hours, the Ministry will proceed to initiate action against the federation in terms of the provisions of the National Sports Development Code, 2011.”
Also, a meeting of the Executive Committee and the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the WFI is slated to be held on January 22 in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh and its chief Singh will participate. Olympian wrestler Bajrang Punia said on Thursday, “Five to six women wrestlers are here with us who have faced these atrocities and we have evidence to prove it.”
Olympic champion wrestler Sakshi Malik said, “Government did not promise any action, they have only given assurance and we’re not happy with the response, we request PM sir to ensure justice.”
Champion former wrestler and Haryana BJP leader Babita Phogat reached the protest site on Thursday to meet the wrestlers as a mediator from the government and assured the grapplers that their demands will be met. “I have assured them that the government is with them. I will try that their issues are resolved today,” Babita said.
“Babita Phogat has come from the government’s side for mediation. We will speak with her and then give more details,” wrestler Bajrang Punia said.
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