Wrestlers threaten to move Supreme Court, Sports Ministry bans WFI elections
Protesting wrestlers on Monday threatened to approach the Supreme Court if an FIR was not lodged against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, while the Sports Ministry stayed the May 7 elections of the federation. and asked the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to set up an ad-hoc committee to conduct the elections.
Protesting wrestlers on Monday threatened to approach the Supreme Court if an FIR was not lodged against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, while the Sports Ministry stayed the May 7 elections of the federation. and asked the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to set up an ad-hoc committee to conduct the elections. The ad-hoc committee will conduct elections within 45 days of its formation and will also look after the functioning of the WFI till the new executive committee is found by the sports body.
The top wrestlers sitting on the dharna said they have nothing to do with the WFI elections and would continue to press for a proper inquiry into the allegations of sexual harassment of women wrestlers against Singh. The ministry’s decision comes even as the country’s top wrestlers, including Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Bajrang Punia and world championship medalist Vinesh Phogat, again reached Jantar Mantar on Sunday to protest and demand the government to probe the allegations against the monitoring committee. demanded that the report be made public. The ministry asked the IOA to set up an ad-hoc committee but did not reveal whether the monitoring committee found the allegations of sexual harassment to be true or not.
The Sports Ministry, however, in its instructions said that as per the findings of the monitoring committee, WFI does not have proper mechanism to investigate such complaints and there is a need for dialogue between WFI and wrestlers. “…it is understood that the election of the Executive Committee (of the WFI) has been fixed for May 7, 2023,” the ministry’s letter to IOA President PT Usha said. In this regard, in view of the present situation, it is necessary that the said election process should be treated as canceled and fresh elections to the Executive Committee should be conducted under a neutral body/ election officer.
“…IOA should constitute a temporary committee or an ad-hoc committee to conduct the election of the WFI Executive Council within 45 days of its constitution and manage the affairs of the WFI, including the selection of players and the next Executive Committee,” he added. Preparation of entries for participation of sportspersons in international events for the interim period till the taking over of the post. The ministry also revealed that the monitoring committee set up on January 23 has now been cancelled.
The ministry said, “The monitoring committee has submitted its report to the ministry and it is currently being examined. Some of the key findings include the absence of a duly constituted Internal Complaints Committee under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013 and lack of adequate mechanism for awareness among sportspersons for grievance redressal. There is a need for more transparency and consultation between (and) there is a need for effective communication between the federation and the players.
IOA president PT Usha said they will discuss the matter in their executive committee meeting on April 27. “Our Executive Committee meeting on 27th April will discuss the current impasse in WFI and work out an actionable solution,” Usha tweeted. The IOA is committed to the betterment of our sportspersons and its sports ecosystem.” The wrestlers, led by Olympians Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, admitted that they had made a mistake by ending their protest three months ago.
Olympic bronze medalist Sakshi said her legal team is planning to approach the Supreme Court. He said, “We will go to the Supreme Court. If we have made false allegations, then a counter FIR should be lodged against us.” Meanwhile, leaders of various political parties reached the protest site and showed solidarity with the wrestlers. Bajrang said, “Now we will not listen to anyone. We will be the face of the protest but now our teachers and coaches will guide us.” Vinesh said that it was a mistake to call off the protest last time.
“It was a mistake to end the protest last time. Now we will not accept any mediator. Now we will not be misled by anyone. “He said,” We all want the police to register an FIR in this matter and investigate the matter. We are citizens of independent India and there are many ways to get justice. Will we not get justice anywhere?” The wrestlers claimed that they had gone to the Connaught Place police station to lodge an FIR against the WFI president, but the police refused to entertain their application. Sakshi said she was coaxed while Bajrang said he wanted the khap and other organizations to support his protest.
He said, “Last time we wanted to keep the protest non-political, but now we want the support of farmers’ organizations, women’s organizations and khaps.” (BJP) leader Babita Phogat mediated between the government and the wrestlers. But now it seems the wrestlers are not happy with the way Babita is now also a part of the government’s monitoring panel. “Maybe she loves politics more than wrestling now,” Vinesh took a jibe at her cousin. When the wrestlers were asked if they would reveal the identity of the victims, Vinesh said, The attitude of the monitoring committee was full of bias towards us from the beginning. Only the Supreme Court will know the identity of the victims, not Brij Bhushan. Vinesh said that Brij Bhushan is getting the advantage of being a BJP MP, which currently has a government at the Centre. “It certainly helps,” he said. We do not know whether the government is under pressure (of the party MP).
Bajrang said, “You should ask the government why it is silent. When we win medals for the country, we are honored and now we are on the streets with our demands, so no one is worried. The government had on January 23 constituted a six-member committee to probe the sexual harassment and bullying allegations against the WFI president. The committee had submitted its inquiry report on April 5 but the government has not yet made it public.
Disclaimer:Prabhasakshi has not edited this news. This news has been published from PTI-language feed.
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