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Delhi Police Launch Probe After Wrestlers' Allegations Against WFI Chief

© AFP 2023 SAJJAD HUSSAINIndian wrestlers Bajrang Punia (2R) and Vinesh Phogat (C) take part in an ongoing protest against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) in New Delhi on April 23, 2023, following allegations of sexual harassment to athletes by members of the WFI.
Indian wrestlers Bajrang Punia (2R) and Vinesh Phogat (C) take part in an ongoing protest against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) in New Delhi on April 23, 2023, following allegations of sexual harassment to athletes by members of the WFI. - Sputnik India, 1920, 24.04.2023
In January this year, top Indian wrestlers staged a protest at Delhi's Jantar Mantar area for three days. The grapplers levelled allegations of sexual harassment and financial misappropriation against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Top Indian wrestlers staging a sit-in for the second time in Delhi have given a call to all political parties who wish to support them in their protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

“This time, all parties are welcome to join our protest, whether it is BJP, Congress, AAP, or any other party,” Olympic medalist Bajrang Punia told the media, while clarifying the protesting wrestlers are not affiliated with any political party.

Later on Monday, the wrestlers filed a FIR registration lawsuit in the Supreme Court against Brij Bhushan Singh.

Sexual Harassments Allegations Against Singh

In January, the protesting wrestlers had kept the protest “apolitical”. In one instance, they requested that Communist Party of India (Marxist) politician Brinda Karat leave the stage. She had visited the protest site on 19 January (second day of the protest) to extend her support to the wrestlers.
The ace grapplers resumed their protest in the Jantar Mantar area of the national capital on Sunday against Singh. They have accused him of sexually harassing several athletes.
Notably, seven female wrestlers have filed a sexual harassment complaint against Singh at the Connaught Place police station in Central Delhi. The protesting athletes claim that no action has been taken yet and they will continue their agitation until the police register an FIR in the case.
The wrestlers claim that they had ended their protest in January over “false assurances” and said that this time they will sit until they get justice.

“We will not believe anyone blindly. Last time we were misled. We hope this time there is no politics in this case,” said Vinesh Phogat, the first Indian female wrestler to win gold at both the Commonwealth and Asian Games while talking to the media.

“We will sit here day and night. Till the time we don't get justice. We will sit here,” Phogat added.
Phogat also shared a photo of all the grapplers sleeping on the footpath at Jantar Mantar. She wrote on Twitter: “From Podium to footpath. Sleeping under the open sky in the hope of justice.”
© Photo : Twitter/@Phogat_VineshProtesting Wrestlers Spent Night at Jantar Mantar
Protesting Wrestlers Spent Night at Jantar Mantar - Sputnik India, 1920, 24.04.2023
Protesting Wrestlers Spent Night at Jantar Mantar
She further stated that they have been trying to contact Federal Sports Minister Anurag Thakur and other relevant authorities for three months but they are not responding.
Rio Olympics medalist Sakshee Malikkh also expressed frustration over the report by a five-member committee constituted by the federal Sports Ministry to probe the charges on Singh not being made public yet.
“We want the report, which has recorded women wrestlers' statements, to be public. It's a sensitive issue, one of the complainants is a minor girl,” Malikkh said, adding that the names of the complainants must not be leaked.
The committee, headed by Olympic medalist boxer MC Mary Kom, was set up by the Sports Ministry in January to investigate the complaints against the WFI Chief and it was instructed to submit its findings in four weeks.
According to media reports, the panel had submitted the report in the first week of April but the Sports Ministry has yet to make its findings public.
However, media reports quoting sources have said that the wrestlers could not prove the sexual harassment allegations against the WFI boss after several hearings.

Wrestlers' Protest in January

At least 30 wrestlers including world championship medalist Vinesh Phogat, Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Bajrang Punia, Rio Olympics medalist Sakshee Malikkh, world championship medalist Sarita Mor, Sangeeta Phogat, Satyawart Malik, Jitender Kinha, and Commonwealth Games (CWG) medalist Sumit Malik staged a massive protest at Jantar Mantar from January 18-20 against WFI chief Singh.
However, the federation chief had denied the allegations and claimed that the protesting wrestlers represented just three percent of all wrestlers, while the others are with him. He also refused to step down as the WFI chief.
The Sports Ministry intervened on the first day itself and asked the WFI to submit its response to the allegations within 72 hours.
On the second day, three-time Commonwealth Games medalist and BJP politician Babita Phogat was sent by the government as a mediator to talk to the wrestlers and assure them that their demands will be met. But the grapplers insisted on the dissolution of the WFI.
Later, wrestlers held a meeting with Federal Sports Minister Anurag Thakur which remained inconclusive.
On the third day, a letter signed by all the protesting wrestlers was sent to Indian Olympics Association (IOA) chief P.T. Usha accusing the WFI chief of harassing and tormenting Vinesh Phogat after she failed to win an Olympic medal in Tokyo.
Soon after receiving the letter, a seven-member committee was constituted to probe the charges.
Later, wrestlers called off their protest after a meeting with Thakur who announced a four-member oversight committee to probe the allegations against the WFI chief and directed the committee to submit the report in four weeks.
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