Rajat Sharma

The sooner, the better: Centre must take action against Wresting Federation chief

AKB30 As the sit-in by female wrestlers entered the third day, pressure mounted on Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh to resign, but the latter stood his ground, telling reporters, “if I speak, there will be a tsunami. I am not here because of someone’s charity. I have been elected by the people. ”

Senior officials in Sports Ministry pointed out that it could be difficult for the Centre to remove the president of an elected sports body. After a four-hour-long meeting with wrestlers at his official residence that stretched till 2 am last night, there was another round of talks at the Sports Ministry on Friday afternoon.

The wrestlers have sent a letter to P. T. Usha, chief of Indian Olympic Association requesting her to take action against Singh. In the letter, the wrestlers wrote, “Vinesh Phogat was mentally harassed and tortured by the WFI chief after she failed to win a medal in Tokyo Olympics”. The wrestlers wrote that they feared for their lives, if Singh continues as WFI chief.

Vinesh Phogat has agreed to reveal the identity of victims before the IOA committee. Vinesh said, “we now have 5 to 6 female wrestlers who have been sexually harassed. We can’t reveal their names now.”

Since the last three days, the protesting wrestlers have been demanding Singh’s resignation and the dissolution of the entire management in WFI. Top wrestlers like Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik are in a mood for a final bout with the WFI chief. The wrestlers have high hopes about getting justice from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government.

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh hails from UP, while most of the protesting wrestlers are from Haryana. Singh wants the wrestlers’ coaching camp to be held in his native place Lucknow, but the wrestlers are unwilling to go there, fearing sexual harassment and attacks.

The situation could not have gone out of hand had the Sports Minister Anurag Thakur spoken to the wrestlers a day earlier. The ministry, probably, thought the players were on a weak wicket, but the wrestlers have shown their strong determination.

It is a matter of shame that our top wrestlers who have brought fame to India in international tournaments, including Olympics, had to sit on dharna protesting sexual harassment. I would like to praise the courage shown by woman wrestlers who came out to expose the wrongdoings in the Federation.

The wrestlers did not allow outsider politicians to take undue benefit from their dharna, and politely told them to go away. The demands raised by wrestlers are justified. Wrestlers like Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia have demanded that criminal action must be taken against those who indulged in sexual harassment of the players, and such persons should be thrown out of the Federation. I think this demand is also justified.

The wrestlers, sitting on dharna, want that the working conditions in the Federation must improve. I am surprised why their demands have not been accepted till now by the Sports Ministry, which has been discussing these issues for the last two days. Already, much time has been lost, and action must be taken without losing any more time.

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