Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on January 23, 2023 announced that six-time World champion and Olympic medallist boxer M.C. Mary Kom will head a government-appointed five-member Oversight Committee to investigate the charges levelled by some prominent wrestlers against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Olympic medallist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, well-known shuttler Trupti Murgunde, former Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) CEO Commander Rajesh Rajagopalan and former Executive Director (Team) of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Radhica Sreeman are the other members of the committee.
“It [the oversight committee] will investigate the serious charges levelled by the wrestlers and will submit its report within a month. Till then the committee will carry out the WFI’s day-to-day work,” said Mr. Thakur.
The panel will probe the allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and intimidation, financial irregularities and administrative lapses, said a release.
Mary Kom and Yogeshwar Dutt are also part of a seven-member committee formed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to look into the wrestlers’ allegations. Mary Kom heads the IOA panel as well.
Several top Haryana-based World and Olympic medallist wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, began a protest in Delhi on Wednesday last. They alleged sexual harassment of young wrestlers by Mr. Singh and financial misappropriation by the WFI.
The protest was called off following assurances from Mr. Thakur.
The Ministry has sought an explanation from the WFI. The federation rejected all the allegations, claiming the protest was part of a “larger conspiracy to malign and defame” Mr. Singh, a BJP MP from Kaiserganj, Uttar Pradesh, with criminal cases pending against him.
The Ministry has instructed the WFI executive committee to abstain from managing its day-to-day activities, including its emergency general body meeting at Gonda on Sunday, until further communication.