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  5. Wrestlers Protest: Top players ready to lodge FIR against WFI President; PT Usha ensures investigation

Wrestlers Protest: Top players ready to lodge FIR against WFI President; PT Usha ensures investigation

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Women (NCW) said that the wrestlers can approach it with their complaints.

Reported By : PTI Edited By : Aachal Maniyar
New Delhi
Published on: January 19, 2023 21:35 IST
Wrestlers during protest
Image Source : PTI Wrestlers during protest

The country's top wrestlers on Thursday vowed to intensify their protest, saying that they didn't get a satisfactory response from the government and they will lodge multiple FIRs against WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh if the Wrestling Federation of India is not disbanded immediately. On the other hand, IOA president PT Usha has asked the wrestlers to come forward and address their concerns.

The wrestlers, who have accused the WFI President of sexual exploitation and intimidation, continued their dharna for the second day as more grapplers joined them in what they called a fight to give "a new life to Indian wrestling."

"As IOA President, I've been discussing the current matter of wrestlers with the members and for all of us the welfare and well being of the athletes is the top most priority of IOA. We request athletes to come forward and voice their concerns with us," PT Usha stated.

"We will ensure a complete investigation to ensure justice. We also have decided to form a special committee to deal with such situations that may arise in the future, for swifter action," she added.

Three-time CWG medallist and BJP leader Babita Phogat came to the protest site with a "message" from the government and assured the grapplers that their demands will be met as the athletes took a turn to share their bad experiences.

Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Ravi Dahiya pleaded for more support while young Anshu Malik narrated how WFI President's presence in the players' hotel in Bulgaria during the world junior championship last year made the women wrestlers uncomfortable. It may be noted that 21-year-old Anshu had not competed in that championship as she was injured.

A team of wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Anshu, Sakshi Malik, and her husband Satyawrat Kadiyan, was then called for a meeting with the government as they discussed their issues with Sports Secretary Sujata Chaturvedi, Director General SAI Sandip Pradhan and Joint Secretary (Sports) Kunal.

During the one-hour meeting, the wrestlers were asked to end their protest and assured that their grievances will be addressed. However, the wrestlers wanted concrete and immediate action and decided to continue their protest unless WFI President is removed and the national federation is disbanded along with all the state wrestling associations in the country.

Later addressing the media, Vinesh did not disclose what transpired at the meeting but said, "Unfortunately we did not get a satisfactory response."

"Yesterday, we had 1-2 victims amongst us but now we have 5-6 wrestlers, who were harassed (sexually). We can't name them now, after all, they are daughters and sisters of somebody. But if we are forced to disclose their identity, it will be a black day," said Vinesh, the two-time World Championship medallist.

"It's not just about his (Brij Bhushan) resignation. We will send him to jail. We did not want to take the legal route, because we had hoped for a resolution but if a proper solution is not provided, we will lodge FIRs against the President.

"We are World Championship and Olympic medallists, don't suspect us, we are telling the truth, believe us."

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Women (NCW) said that the wrestlers can approach it with their complaints.

(Inputs from PTI)

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