Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on January 19 said that the allegations levelled by wrestlers against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and its president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh are serious in nature and the required action will be taken.
Many wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik, have levelled charges of sexual harassment of women wrestlers by the president and coaches of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and of mismanagement in the functioning of the federation.
Anurag Thakur said that “Government has worked for the welfare and upliftment of sports and players. India has won a lot of medals and delivered good performances at the global level. Work has been done to make federations better. Allegations levelled by wrestlers are serious in nature. Taking swift action, the Government of India sent a notice to WFI and sought a reply within 72 hours. Camp has been postponed. I will try to meet the wrestlers after I reach Delhi. We will talk and listen to them and take the required action.”
Earlier on January 19, veteran wrestler and BJP leader Babita Phogat arrived at the protest site at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, where wrestlers continued their sit-in protest for the second day demanding action against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and other officials against alleged sexual exploitation of several athletes and “harassment of wrestlers by the WFI through its arbitrary rules and regulations”.
“I have assured them that the government is with them. I will try that their issues are resolved today,” Babita Phogat said.
Babita, who is also the deputy director in the Haryana Sports and Youth Affairs Department had earlier tweeted, “I stand with all my fellow players in this matter of wrestling. I assure all of you that I will work to raise this issue with the government at every level, and the future will be decided the way players feel right.”
“As IOA President, I’ve been discussing the current matter of wrestlers with the members and for all of us the welfare and well-being of the athletes is the top most priority of IOA. We request athletes to come forward and voice their concerns with us,” PT Usha stated.
“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 added.
Vinesh Phogat had previously alleged that coaches who are favourites of the WFI misbehave with women athletes and harass them.
She also accused the President of WFI, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexually harassing girls and calling her a ‘khota sikka’ after her defeat at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Vinesh Phogat alleged, “Coaches are harassing women and some coaches, who are favourites of the Federation, misbehave with women coaches as well. They sexually harass girls. The WFI president has sexually harassed many girls.”
On January 18, taking cognizance of the protest staged by wrestlers, the Sports Ministry has sought an explanation from WFI and directed it to reply within the next 72 hours on the allegations made.
The Ministry has also stated that if WFI fails to furnish the reply within the next 72 hours, the Ministry will proceed to initiate action against the federation in terms of the provisions of the National Sports Development Code, 2011.