Wrestlers called off their protest, WFI rejected their allegations


The Hindu

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Hours before wrestlers called off their protest, WFI rejected their allegations

The Wrestling Federation of India had rejected all the allegations, including that of sexual harassment against its president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and claimed that the wrestlers’ protest was motivated by a “hidden agenda to dislodge the current management”.

The WFI denied all the charges in its response to the government’s notice and asserted that “there is no scope for arbitrariness and mismanagement “ in the federation.

The Sports Ministry had sought an explanation from WFI after the country’s top wrestlers sat on a dharna and alleged that the federation chief sexually harassed women wrestlers and acted like a “dictator”.

The WFI sent its reply on January 20 evening, and a few hours later the wrestlers called off their protest after the government announced that it will form an oversight committee to probe the charges. It also said the WFI chief will step aside till the investigation is over.

“The WFI is managed by an elected body as per its constitution, and therefore, there is no scope for arbitrariness and mismanagement in WFI by any one individually, including the president,” the WFI said in its response. “The WFI has enhanced the image of wrestling sport nationally as well as internationally and for the record of this ministry, it is not possible without fair, supportive, clean and strict management of WFI,” it added.

The allegations were made by renowned wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Ravi Dahiya.

The federation brought to the notice of the government that it has a five-member sexual harassment committee in place, chaired by its secretary-general V.N. Prasood and which also has Sakshi as a member.

It said the charges were “motivated, biased, unfounded, untrue and false” and that the allegations were made solely with a view to harm the president, the WFI and its coaches.

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