Last Updated: January 19, 2023, 23:50 IST
Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has been asked to resign from his post within 24 hours, sources told News18, a day after India’s top wrestlers levelled sexual harassment charges against him.
This comes hours after Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur met the protesting wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Sakshi Malik, at his Delhi home. The Olympic wrestlers, protesting at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, demanded the WFI chief’s resignation and also wanted that the federation be disbanded.
Thakur, speaking to reporters, said the allegations were “serious in nature” and the government would talk and listen to the wrestlers to take the required action.
Earlier in the day, Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and other wrestlers said they weren’t satisfied after a meeting with the sports secretary as there was “no promise of any sort of concrete action”. The wrestlers also said they would approach the police if needed.
ALSO READ: ‘Abhi Nahi Toh Kabhi Nahi’: Wrestlers Demand Action, as WFI Chief Grapples with Intensifying Protests
A crying Vinesh Phogat had alleged on Wednesday that WFI president Brij Bhushan had been sexually exploiting women wrestlers for many years, a charge which was denied by the sports administrator and BJP MP.
Here are the top developments on this big story:
- Vinesh Phogat, addressing a press conference after meeting the sports secretary, said that they would make sure that WFI president Brij Bhushan resigns, adding that they also want the federation to be dismantled.
- At the press conference, Punia said that their fight wasn’t against the government. “We are sitting here to safeguard the future of children who are sitting here in protest.”
- The sports ministry is mulling forming a three-member committee to look into the allegations of sexual harassment by women wrestlers against the WFI chief, sources told News18. The committee is likely to have two women representatives as it will ensure that women wrestlers are “able to share their concerns better”.
- Anurag Thakur told reporters that the government has taken cognisance of the allegations by wrestlers and the sports ministry has sent a notice to WFI and sought a reply within 72 hours. “The upcoming camp has also been postponed with immediate effect,” he said. Thakur said that the allegations made against the federation are “serious in nature”, and the government would talk to the wrestlers to take the required action.
- The sports ministry had on Wednesday sought an explanation from the WFI, saying it has taken a “very serious view of the matter” since it concerns the well-being of the athletes.
- Vinesh Phogat, who has been at loggerheads with WFI since the Tokyo Olympic Games, claimed that several coaches at the national camp in Lucknow have also exploited women wrestlers, adding that there are a few women at the camp who approached the wrestlers at the behest of the WFI president. The 28-year-old, however, clarified that she herself never faced such exploitation but claimed that “one victim” was present at the ‘dharna’ they began at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday.
- Legendary athlete and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha has ensured that the concerns of the wrestlers protesting at the Jantar Mantar will be addressed. Taking to her official Twitter handle, the 58-year-old said that the first and foremost concern of the IOA was the well-being of the athletes and she urged the athletes to come forward and raise their grievances to the governing body.
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