The protesting wrestlers seeking action against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh have decided to go to the Supreme Court, insisting they won’t give up unless an official FIR is registered even as the Sports Ministry on Monday sought the formation of an ad-hoc committee as an interim measure.
The wrestlers including Olympic champions Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia and Asian champion Vinesh Phogat have accused the former WFI chief of sexual harassment.
This is the second time they have sat on protest after doing so in January this year, when the Ministry formed an six-member Oversight Committee to look into the allegations.
On Monday, the Ministry wrote to the IOA suggesting postponement of the upcoming elections (scheduled for May 7) and constitution of an Ad-Hoc committee as an interim arrangement “...to conduct the election to the Executive Committee of the WFI within 45 days of its formation and to manage the affairs of the WFI, including selection of athletes and making of entries for participation in international events...”. But the wrestlers are not impressed.
“We will not believe these false promises. Earlier also they made a committee but those close to Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh were only running the federation. No FIR has been registered for three days, we want the court to look into that also and proper investigation to be done into our complaints,” Vinesh said. Their petition is expected to come up for consideration on Tuesday.
The Ministry’s ‘suggestion’ to the IOA also mentioned the major findings of the Oversight Committee: Absence of an Internal Complaints Committee and lack of adequate mechanism for awareness building and grievance redressal; need for more transparency and consultation between federation and sportspersons; need for effective communication between the stakeholders; there was no mention of the specific charges against Singh.
“The committee was biased from the start. If the committee has not found anything then let them register an FIR against us but let everything be made public,” Sakshi said, adding, “he is getting an advantage because he is an M.P. from BJP. He has the power of money but we have the power of truth.”
The wrestlers, however, admitted that the support this time from their fraternity was muted., claiming they were afraid of their own careers, dismissing Babita Phogat’s presence on the committee as being politically inclined.
SAI Deputy Director General Shiv Sharma met the wrestlers for more than an hour late at night. “I have talked to them and will convey their views to the ministry. I hope things will be sorted out soon. I will come again tomorrow to talk and find a way out,” Sharma said before being interrupted by Vinesh seeking FIR registration as the primary concern.
Interestingly, the ministry has ‘requested’ the IOA and refrained from directly instructing the WFI on elections which could have been construed as government interference in the administration of a recognised federation