Wrestlers seek political support against Brijbhushan; WFI polls postponed

Brijbhushan Sharan Singh is a BJP strongman. He represents UP’s Kaisarganj parliamentary segment in the Lok Sabha.

| Updated: 25 April, 2023 11:27 am IST
Wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Puni and Sakshi Malik (from left to right) at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on Monday.

New Delhi: Wrestlers protesting against the head of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, have appealed to political parties, players, and khap panchayat members to support their demand for action against Singh, whom they have accused of sexually harassing female wrestlers.

The protesting wrestlers have submitted seven complaints to the Delhi Police, but the police have yet to register an FIR. The police have sought the findings of the oversight committee formed by the sports ministry in January. The committee had recorded the statement of 15 female wrestlers who accused Singh of sexual harassment, but no report has been released yet.

Singh, a BJP parliamentarian, has been the head of WFI for the past 12 years.

The wrestlers, led by Commonwealth Games medal winners Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia, have been protesting at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar for the past three days.

On Monday, they held a press conference and announced their next course of action. Punia expressed his lack of faith in any committee, as the oversight committee failed to produce any report. “A total of 15 female wrestlers had recorded the statement before the oversight committee which was formed in January. Neither the findings came out nor the report. Now we know from our sources that Brijbhushan has got a clean chit,” Punia told media persons.

Reacting to the postponement of WFI elections, Phogat said that they were not interested in politics or contesting elections but wanted action against Singh. “Postponing elections doesn’t matter to us. We want action against Brijbhushan Singh,” she said.

Speaking to The New Indian, Malik apologized to powerful khap panchayats for ignoring their support during the first round of protests held in January. She said that the committee formation was just an eyewash and they are not going to be lured by any of the mediators (between wrestlers and government) this time.

They also urged other sportsmen to come out in support of their cause to save the wrestling. When asked about the lack of support from wrestlers from Uttar Pradesh, the protesters claimed that they had support from across India, including Uttar Pradesh.

Meanwhile, the Wrestling Federation of India’s tweet indicated its faith in the system and the law. The Union sports ministry had directed the Indian Olympic Association to postpone the elections of the federation and set up an ad-hoc committee for the elections of the executive committee of the WFI within 45 days of its formation to manage its day-to-day affairs.

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