The charges of sexual harassment against India’s wrestling federation chairman and certain trainers would be investigated by a panel of respected former athletes, the Indian Olympics organisation said on Friday, as the government hurried to put an end to the issue.

Following an extraordinary meeting late in the evening, the Indian Olympic Association declared that a seven-member team will investigate the claims against Singh. Mary Kom, Dola Banerjee, Alaknanda Ashok, Yogeshwar Dutt, and Sahdev Yadav will be on the panel.

Key Points

  • The news came as some of India’s most prominent wrestlers met with Sports Minister Anurag Thakur after the first round of negotiations last night failed to provide a resolution.
  • Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), has refuted all claims and refuses to resign. Speaking with reporters in Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda, he stated: “If I speak, there will be a tsunami… I am not here because of someone’s charity. I have been elected by the people.”
  • Minister Anurag Thakur, who called Singh and warned him not to make any public statements, met with the protesting wrestlers for four hours yesterday, between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., without making any progress. 
  • “We’re not formally authorized to speak anything on this issue. He (Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh) will address the media on Jan 22nd on Annual General Meet of WFI. We’ve given our official statement to Sports Ministry,” Pratik Bhushan Singh, son of WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was quoted by ANI on its official Twitter handle. 
  • Prior to the second meeting, the wrestlers wrote to PT Usha, the head of the Indian Olympic Committee, requesting action against Singh.
  • In a letter addressed to PT Usha, wrestlers stated: “Vinesh Phogat was mentally harassed and tortured by the WFI chief after she missed out on an Olympic medal in Tokyo. She almost contemplated suicide.”
  • Vinesh Phogat has consented to inform the Indian Olympic Association committee of the victims’ identities.
  • Olympic medalists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, as well as Vinesh Phogat and others, have been conducting a sit-in protest against the WFI president for the last three days at Jantar Mantar, accusing him of sexual exploitation and intimidation and demanding that the federation be dismantled.
  • The Sports Ministry has asked demonstrators to be patient as it awaits a response from the organisation. The wrestlers’ union has been asked to respond by 3 p.m. today.
  • Earlier on Wednesday, the Sports Government stated that if the WFI does not answer within three days, the ministry “would continue to take action against the federation in accordance with the rules of the National Sports Development Code, 2011.”

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