The Indian Olympic Association formed a seven-member panel to probe the allegations of sexual harassment levelled by wrestlers against the President of the Wrestlers Federation of India (WFI) Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Reacting to the charges, panel member Yogeshwar Dutt said that the allegations are very serious and ‘gravest’ is the sexual harassment.
“It’s very serious, gravest is sexual harassment allegations. There can be no compromise in sexual harassment allegations. If it happened, it should be probed and the accused should be punished,” ANI quoted him as saying.
He said that if the charges are false, it should be investigated why they were levelled and what was the motive behind it.
“Also, if the allegations are false, it should be probed why were they levelled and what was the motive behind this?” he said.
Dutt added that the panel will prepare a report after listening to both sides within 8-10 days.
“We will send the report to both Sports Ministry and Home Ministry as well as to the Prime Minister,” he said.
WFI President Brij Bhushan To Step Aside Till Probe Continues
Earlier, wrestlers called off their protest late on Friday night after getting assurances from the government that their grievances would be addressed, the first step of which was the stepping aside of under-fire Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, a PTI report mentioned.
The wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Ravi Dahiya, decided to end their protest after a breakthrough was achieved during a second round of talks with union sports minister Anurag Thakur.
“It has been decided that an oversight committee will be formed. Names for which will be announced tomorrow. The committee will complete its investigation within four weeks. It will thoroughly probe all the allegations be it financial or sexual harassment that have been levelled against WFI and its chief,” Thakur said after the marathon meeting, reported PTI.
“Till the investigation is over, he (Singh) will step aside and co-operate with the investigation and the oversight committee will run the day-to-day affairs of WFI,” he added. This came barely few hours after the Indian Olympic Association had formed a seven-member committee, headed by M C Mary Kom, to probe the charges against Singh.
Olympic medallist Bajrang said, “We have been assured safety and security by the government because we were threatened by WFI president in the past. We did not want to take the route of protest, but we were pushed to the limit.
IOA Panel To Probe Allegations
Indian Olympic Association president PT Usha assured that a thorough investigation will be carried out by its seven-member panel to ensure justice.
“We will ensure a complete investigation to ensure justice. We also have decided to form a special committee to deal with such situations that may arise in the future, for swifter action,” she said in a tweet.
(2/2) We will ensure a complete investigation to ensure justice. We also have decided to form a special committee to deal with such situations that may arise in the future, for swifter action.
— P.T. USHA (@PTUshaOfficial) January 19, 2023
Besides legendary boxer Mary Kom and wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, the IOA panel includes archer Dola Banerjee and Indian Weightlifting Federation of India (IWLF) president Sahdev Yadav.
The committee also has two advocates, Talish Ray and Shlok Chandra, besides former shuttler Alaknanda Ashok, who is its vice chairperson.
The IOA decision was taken during the apex sports body’s emergency Executive Council meeting, which was attended by the likes of Olympic champion shooter Abhinav Bindra, Olympic bronze medallist Yogeshwar, along with IOA president PT Usha and joint secretary Kalyan Chaubey.
IOA Athletes Commission Member Shiva Keshvan was a special invitee in the meeting.