Members of Khap Panchayats from 172 villages in Charkhi Dadri have come out in support of the wrestlers who are demanding the shutting of the beleaguered Wrestling Federation of India
Members of Khap Panchayats from 172 villages in Charkhi Dadri have come out in support of the wrestlers who are demanding the shutting of the beleaguered Wrestling Federation of India, whose Chief Brij Bhushan, also a BJP MP from Kaiserganj, Uttar Pradesh has been accused of mentally and sexually harassing female athletes.
“Prime Minister has said that beti bachayo, beti padhayo. I would say protect our daughters from them,” said an angry member of Khap Panchayat from Balali village of Charkhi Dadri, from where the face of the protest Vinesh Photag also hails.
Another member of Khap said that if the government did not implement their demand of totally shutting down the Federation is not met then they would gather in even larger numbers.
“What has happened with our daughters is shameful. Women and their families have to fight society first to get into wrestling. Then they have to face such harassment,” said a member present at Jantar Mantar.
Meanwhile, in a letter addressed to Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha, the protesting athletes said, “On behalf of all wrestlers in the country, we would like to bring to your notice some very serious complaints of sexual harassment against WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. These complaints have been informed to us by several young wrestlers.”
The letter also highlighted alleged financial misappropriation on the part of the WFI. “Contract payments were agreed with some of the senior wrestlers in the last few years through sponsorship received from TATA Motors. These payments were only partly made by WFI,” the letter read.
The letter claimed that Vinesh Phogat was mentally harassed and tortured by the WFI President after she missed out on an Olympic medal in Tokyo and that she was driven to contemplate suicide. “The Coaches and Sports Science staff that WFI President puts in the National camp are absolutely incompetent and not on merit. They are just his informants and they create a very bad atmosphere in the National camp,”
The protesters demanded that the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) immediately appoint a committee to enquire into the complaints of sexual harassment. “We demand the resignation of the WFI President, dissolution of the WFI, and a new committee should be formed to run the affairs of the WFI in consultation with the wrestlers,” said the letter.
Reiterating that their protest wasn’t a political one, the letter said, “There is NO political party involvement or industrialist involvement. We as senior wrestlers who fight for the country only want to ensure a safe and secure place and environment for our young wrestlers, especially female wrestlers. They do not deserve to be in an environment of intimidation. We will not budge until the WFI President is sacked.”
The letter was signed by wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Ravi Dahiya, Deepak Punia, Vinah Phogat Boigny, Vinesh Phogat, Sashee Ravi, Kumal Punia.