Indian wrestlers called off their protest late on Friday evening after a second meeting at the Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur’s residence in the national capital in which he promised a thorough probe into the allegations.
Anurag Thakur said that his Ministry has listened to the grievances of the wrestlers and steps will be taken accordingly while adding that the demands of the wrestlers will be taken care of.
“I want to thank all the players as they have provided us with valuable inputs and our discussions have been about taking forward the sports. We have seen changes in multiple sports federations in the recent past and this will be looked upon. The demands put in by the wrestlers will be taken care of. We will constitute an oversight committee and will announce the name of members tomorrow.”
He assured that an unbiased probe will be carried out by the oversight committee on all the accusations leveled against the WFI and its President with the latter stepping aside from his post.
“The committee will investigate all the serious allegations, including sexual harassment and financial irregularities. It will be investigated properly and the committee will take further decisions,” Thakur added.
“The committee will also look into the daily affairs of the federation and the WFI President will step aside till the probe goes on. He will also cooperate in the investigation,” the Sports Minister confirmed.
The meeting lasted beyond midnight, following which wrestler Bajrang Punia announced to the media that the other wrestlers are calling off the protest after assurance of action from Thakur against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).
The wrestlers have been staging a protest since Wednesday, accusing WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexual harassment of women wrestlers, sponsorship fund embezzlement, and athletes’ mismanagement.
“After receiving the assurance from our Sports Minister, we have decided to call off the protest,” said Punia.
The meeting at the Sports Minister’s residence lasted for more than five hours after the wrestlers — Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Ravi Dahiya, Deepak Punia, and others — reached at 7 p.m.
Bajrang Punia also added that Thakur has also ensured safety to the wrestlers as he hoped that the committee will conclude its investigation in a month’s time.
“Thank you everyone for your valuable support. Hopefully, the committee will give results in one month and we are hopeful of an independent investigation. Our security will be taken care of as assured by the Sports Minister,” he said.
Will Submit Report In 10 Days, Says IOA Panel Member Yogeshwar Dutt
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 them.
Dutt added that the panel will prepare a report after listening to both sides within Eight to ten days.
“We will send the report to both Sports Ministry and Home Ministry as well as to the Prime Minister,” he said.