New Delhi/Hisar, January 20
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) today constituted a seven-member committee to probe the allegations of sexual harassment against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh by top grapplers.
The committee comprises legendary boxer and former MP Mary Kom, wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, archer Dola Banerjee, former shuttler Alaknanda Ashok, Indian Weightlifting Federation president Sahdev Yadav and advocates Talish Ray and Shlok Chandra. Most of the members are affiliated to the BJP.
On the panel…
Legendary boxer and ex-MP Mary Kom, wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, archer Dola Banerjee, former shuttler Alaknanda Ashok, Indian Weightlifting Federation chief Sahdev Yadav and advocates Talish Ray and Shlok Chandra
The allegations have been levelled by some of the country’s top wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Ravi Dahiya. The decision to form the panel was taken during the IOA’s emergency executive council meeting, attended by the likes of Olympic champion shooter Abhinav Bindra and bronze medallist Yogeshwar, along with IOA chief PT Usha and joint secretary Kalyan Chaubey. Usha said that a “thorough investigation would be carried out to ensure justice” even as the wrestlers continued their protest against the WFI president for the third consecutive day. While Vinesh claimed she had “voice recording of a woman wrestler who had confided in her about the mental and physical torture she had suffered”, the WFI chief termed the protest by the grapplers “dharna of Shaheen Bagh”.
“I received a call from a woman wrestler in which she detailed what happened with her,” said Vinesh. “Also, six-seven boys have told us that they are in depression because they were tortured. These allegations are against a WFI’s vice-president. The victims sent a written complaint against him, but no action was taken and the WFI did not even acknowledge it. President (Singh) has claimed that no one ever filed a complaint, but we have proof that people have complained about harassment,” claimed Vinesh. There are seven vice-presidents in the WFI’s executive council, but Vinesh did not disclose any name.
Another Haryana wrestler, Nirmala Boora, alleged that she had heard of several women wrestlers from Haryana and UP who had faced “exploitation at the hands of the WFI president”. “I know of an audio recording in which a wrestler was issued a life threat in case she dared to open her mouth,” she claimed.
Nirmala, winner of a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, alleged that the WFI chief hated wrestlers from Haryana. “He used to insult wrestlers from Haryana a lot and there were audio clips in this regard,” she said. Nirmala said the women wrestlers had demanded many times that the national camp be shifted from Lucknow, but added that she was not aware if any complaint was lodged regarding sexual exploitation. She, however, claimed that “there had been murmurs about exploitation of female wrestlers for long”.
Vinesh’s uncle Mahavir Phogat, wrestling coach and father of wrestlers Geeta and Babita, said in Hisar: “There is definitely truth in the allegations being made by Vinesh. A fair inquiry will bring out the truth.”
The WFI chief, meanwhile, cancelled his scheduled press conference in Gonda, UP. Sources said he would answer all the allegations against him after the WFI’s extraordinary general body meeting on January 22. However, he made it clear that he would not step down from his post. “The protest by the wrestlers against me is the dharna of Shaheen Bagh… The protesting players have become a toy in the hands of the Congress. This type of conspiracy was hatched against me by the Congress almost three decades ago as well,” Sharan Singh, a sixth-time Lok Sabha MP from UP’s Kaisarganj constituency, told reporters at his native place.
(With PTI inputs)
#bajrang punia #Congress #Hisar #Indian Olympic Association IOA #Vinesh Phogat
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