The protesting wrestlers came up with a sensational allegation that casts the doubts over sports minister Anurag Thakur‘s role by not taking the concrete action and instead formed an oversight panel to probe sexual harassment allegations against WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Vinesh Phogat, the biggest face of the wrestlers’ protest, levelled allegations against Thakur saying the minister hushed up the matter by forming a committee.
Justice should be delivered to athletes fighting for their rights: IOA athletes commission member Karhana
Indian Olympic Association’s athletes commission member Om Prakash Karhana on Tuesday came out in support of the protesting wrestlers, who had accused WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexual harassment and intimidation, saying “justice should be delivered to athletes who are fighting for their
She also claimed that sexual harassment cases were twice reported in the past during the national camp but Wresting Federation of India always managed to escape.
The World championship medallist said the complainants had shared their ordeal in a meeting with the sports minister but he did not do anything except for constituting an oversight panel.
The wrestlers had called off their protest in January after getting assurances from the government that the matter would be probed, and a five-member panel was formed to look into the allegations of sexual harassment against Brij Bhushan.
“During the 2012 national camp, a sexual harassment complaint was lodged at a police station. Within 24 hours that case was hushed up. In 2014 a physio, who was also trainer of Geeta Phogat, raised a similar matter and he was removed from the camp within 24 hours. From that day, his wife could not participate in any competition.
The national camp shut and the controversy surrounding WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh still raging, several non-protesting wrestlers on Tuesday demanded that the SAI must reopen its centres for grapplers since the lack of proper training is having an adverse impact on their preparations for the
“Before we started our protest, three months back, we had explained everything to a government official how sexual harassment was taking place and how women wrestlers were being tortured mentally. The athletes were being pushed to a stage where they could have done anything with their lives.
“We waited for three-four months but when nothing happened, we came to Jantar Mantar. When we met the sports minister, the women wrestlers shared individual incidents related to sexual harassment. The girls were crying before him but no action was taken at that time.
“Sports minister tried to hush up matter yet again by forming a committee. We have tried to raise this issue at every level but the matter was always suppressed,” said Vinesh.
The Asian Games gold medallist said now people can understand why they were silent for 12 years.
We delayed in saying we stand with the protesting wrestlers: Sharath Kamal
As the wrestlers continue to protest at Jantar Mantar, demanding the arrest of their federation president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh under POCSO, the focus is trained on Athletes Commission of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), comprising Olympians and former legends of Indian sport.
“We had to play sport. Our career, life was at stake and that’s why we could not muster enough courage. Now we have reached a stage in our careers where we could speak. It’s not easy to stand against a powerful man,” she said.
Sakshi Malik said the motive behind the protest, as being projected, was not to seek exemptions from trials. She claimed she was asked to appear in a trial abroad when she had already won a trial in India. Another girl, in 2012, was asked to reappear in a trial within 24 hours of winning.