On Thursday night, a meeting between top Indian wrestlers and Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur did not result in a resolution, as the wrestlers refused to abandon their call for the government to immediately dissolve the Wrestling Federation of India.
The marathon meeting began around 10 pm on Thursday, the second day of the wrestlers' protest against WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
The wrestlers left Thakur's house at 1:45 am and did not speak to the reporters waiting outside. Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya, Sakshi Malik and world championship medallist Vinesh Phogat were part of the meeting.
Thakur flew to Delhi from Himachal Pradesh after an earlier meeting between government officials and the protesting wrestlers remained inconclusive. The wrestlers will meet the Sports minister again on Friday, according to government officials. The ministry cannot force Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh to resign unless it receives a written reply from the WFI since the government itself has asked the wrestling body for an explanation.
The WFI is yet to respond to the Sports Ministry, which on Wednesday gave the wrestling body 72 hours to respond to allegations of sexual harassment of several woman athletes and intimidation by its president. According to sources, the government wants the wrestlers to end their protest but the athletes are adamant that the WFI should be disbanded first. "The government can resolve other issues later. We are fine with that, but it must disband the WFI first," a source close to the wrestlers told PTI.
A team of wrestlers, including Bajrang, Vinesh, Anshu Malik, Sakshi and her husband Satyawrat Kadiyan met government officials earlier on Thursday and discussed their issues with Sports Secretary Sujata Chaturvedi and Sports Authority of India Director General Sandip Pradhan.
During the meeting, which lasted for one hour, the wrestlers were requested to end their demonstration and were given the assurance that their complaints will be taken into consideration. Babita Phogat, who is a former wrestler and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, also participated in the meeting to try to resolve the impasse.