New Delhi: The Union Sports Ministry has sought an explanation from the Wrestling Federation of India over the allegations of sexual exploitation levelled by wrestlers including Olympic and Commonwealth Games medalists, said the Sports Authority of India, reported ANI. The Ministry has directed WFI to furnish a reply within next 72 hours into the allegation against it by the wrestlers, it added.
Olympians and star wrestlers Sakshee Malikkh, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia on Wednesday made claims of harrasment against officials and coaches of WFI and lead a sit-in protest against the “dictatorship” of the national federation President at Jantar Mantar.
Union Sports Ministry sought an explanation from Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and directed it to furnish a reply within the next 72 hours on the allegations levelled by wrestlers, including Olympic and CWG medalists: Sports Authority of India pic.twitter.com/w2C4FhyvFX
— ANI (@ANI) January 19, 2023
In view of the broil, SAI has cancelled the Women National Wrestling Coaching camp that was slated to start at Sports Authority of India’s National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) in Lucknow from January 18, 2023 with 41 wrestlers and 13 coaches.
Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal also stepped in and said that it was sad and unfortunate that star wrestlers, who had won medals for their nation at the Olympics and other prestigious competitions, were on the streets protesting the Federation. She also made to Jantar Mantar and joined the protest.
“Olympian wrestlers Sakshee Malikkh, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia, who have brought laurels to the country, are forced to protest today. They say the Wrestling Federation of India’s (WFI) President and coaches sexually exploit the players. Issuing a notice to the Sports Ministry and the Police to investigate the matter,” tweeted Swati Maliwal.
Although the wrestlers did not specify the specifics of their complaints or demands, it was evident that they are dissatisfied with the manner in which Brij Bhushan Singh, who is also a Kaiserganj-based BJP MP, runs the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).
About 30 wrestlers gathered at Jantar Mantar, including Bajrang, Vinesh, Rio Olympics medalist Sakshi Malik, world championship medalist Sarita Mor, Sangeeta Phogat, Satyawart Malik, Jitender Kinha, and CWG medalist Sumit Malik.
“Our fight is not against the government or Sports Authority of India (SAI). This is against WFI. We will share details later in the day. ‘Yeh ab aar paar ki ladai hai’ (It’s a fight to the finish),” Bajrang Punia told PTI.
Meanwhile, WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on Wednesday denied the allegations of sexual exploitation leveled against him “There has been no incident of sexual harassment. If such a thing has happened, then I will hang myself,” he said.