Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Singh, who has been asked to step aside till a probe committee submits its report into allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation against him, on Saturday was chief guest at a wrestling competition event in Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda.
Singh, the BJP MP from the Lok Sabha constituency of Kaiserganj in Uttar Pradesh inaugurated the Senior National Senior Open National Ranking Tournament that began at the Nandini Nagar Stadium in Gonda. He was welcomed by officials and garlanded before being ushered to the stage. Visuals from the event showed him watching the ongoing matches.
The development comes a day after Union sports minister Anurag Thakur announced that a seven-member oversight committee will look into allegations of sexual harassment and financial misappropriation levelled against Singh. Prominent wrestlers of the country, including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakhshee Mallikkh had been on a three-day protest at Jantar Mantar in the national capital.
Addressing a press conference at his residence last evening Thakur in the presence of wrestlers also assured that justice would prevail in four weeks. Thakur also said that WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh would step aside till the probe ends and cooperate with the committee which will see all the day to day workings of the federation. The probe committee will submit its report with four weeks, the minister said.
Wrestlers Sakshee Malikkh, Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Ravi Dahiya and other sportspersons were present during Thakur’s media address.
Wrestlers who had been sitting on a protest from Wednesday at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi called off their protest after the Sports Minister assured them of all support and cooperation.
The protest was launched after several women wrestlers levelled serious charges of sexual harassment by the president and coaches of the WFI and of mismanagement in the functioning of the federation.
After the wrestlers wrote to Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president P T Usha, the IOA met and formed a seven-member committee to probe into allegations against Singh. Members of the committee include Olympic medalist Mary Kom, former archer Dola Banerjee, Alaknanda Ashok, London Olympic medalist Yogeshwar Dutt, Indian Weightlifting Federation President Sahdev Yadav and two advocates, the IOA announced on Friday.
Extending gratitude for the government’s concern, Ace India wrestler Bajrang Punia said, “The Union Sports Minister listened to our demands and has assured us that a proper investigation will be done. I thank him and we are hopeful that a fair probe will be done, hence we are calling off the protest.”
Meanwhile, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has refuted all allegations against him. (ANI)