Wrestlers end protest against Sports Minister’s insurance; Brij Bhushan resigns as WFI chairman over investigation
The Minister of Sports further announced during the late evening press conference that an oversight committee would investigate allegations of sexual harassment by Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and financial irregularities of the association.
Bajrang Punia, who attended the five-hour meeting with other star wrestlers, announced to the media that they were calling off the protest after Thakur’s assurance of action against WFI.
Wrestlers protest: Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and other stars to skip first international tournament of the year
The wrestlers have been staging a protest since Wednesday, accusing top WFI brass of sexual harassment of wrestlers, embezzlement of sponsorship funds and mismanagement of athletes.
“After receiving assurance from our sports minister, we have decided to cancel the event,” Punia said.
The wrestler — Bajrang, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Ravi Dahiya, Deepak Punia and others — reached Thakur’s residence at 7 p.m. Friday evening. It was the second meeting between the two sides as they met earlier late Thursday night and lasted until the wee hours of Friday morning. Until Friday afternoon, protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar remained adamant on the resignation of Brij Bhushan and the dissolution of WFI.
Thakur said the grievances of the wrestlers have been heard and necessary action will be taken accordingly.
“I would like to thank all the players as they provided us with valuable information and our discussions focused on the progress of the sport. We have seen changes in several sports federations in the recent past and this will be reviewed,” Thakur said.
“The demands of the wrestlers will be taken into account. We will form an oversight committee and announce the names of the members tomorrow.”
He further assured that an impartial investigation would be carried out by the committee into all the accusations made against WFI and its chairman, the latter stepping down from his post.
“The committee will investigate all serious allegations, including sexual harassment and financial irregularities. It will be investigated appropriately and the committee will make further decisions,” he added.
Wrestler’s manifestation: monitoring committee to manage the WFI and submit a report within a month
Thakur also added that the oversight committee will also take care of the day-to-day affairs of the wrestling federation and submit its report within a month. During this period, Singh will leave his post and cooperate with the investigation.
“The committee will also review the day-to-day affairs of the federation and the WFI president will step aside until the investigation continues. He will also cooperate with the investigation,” Thakur confirmed. He also added the committee
Bajrang Punia further added that Thakur also ensured the safety of the wrestlers as he hoped the committee would conclude its investigation within a month.
“Thank you all for your valuable support. Hopefully the committee will deliver results within a month and we hope for an independent investigation. Our safety will be taken care of as assured by the Minister for Sports,” he said.
Wrestlers protest: IOA led by PT Usha forms committee to investigate as well
On Friday evening, the Indian Olympic Association led by PT Usha formed a seven-member committee, led by MC Mary Kom, to investigate the accusation against WFI and its top brass.
Other committee members were wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, archer Dola Banerjee and Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) President Sahdev Yadav.
The committee also has two lawyers – Talish Ray and Shlok Chandra – in addition to former commuter and IOA co-secretary Alaknanda Ashok, who serves as its vice-chairman.
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