Vinesh Phogat, the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold at both the Commonwealth Games. And the Asian Games, on Wednesday leveled some serious allegations against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). And its president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh. The veteran athlete,. Who has also represented India at the Olympics,. Said that “women wrestlers have been molested by national coaches over the years and received death threats by WFI officials.” He along with other top Indian wrestlers sat in a massive protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday. Wrestlers have called for the removal of the WFI president.
“We will not compete in any international competition until the WFI president is removed”. declared Olympic bronze medalist wrestler Bajrang Punia in protest.
Singh has been at the helm of WFI since 2011. He was elected President of WFI for the third consecutive term in February 2019.
“We were threatened that our careers would end if we spoke up. Members of the federation used obscenities against women wrestlers. We also approached the Prime Minister,” Vinesh added.
Rio Olympic medalist Sakshi Malik, World Championship medalist. Sarita More, Sangeeta Phogat, Satyawarta Malik, Jitender Kinha and CWG medalist Sumit Malik were among. The 30 wrestlers who gathered at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday.
World championship medalist and Olympian Vinesh also claimed that several coaches at the national camp in Lucknow have exploited women wrestlers, adding that there are a few women in the camp who approach the wrestlers at the behest of the WFI president.
“Some coaches are close to national federations. Those coaches have exploited young girls. Don’t know how many young girls have suffered because of them,” Vinesh added.
The 28-year-old though clarified that he has not faced such exploitation himself but claimed,. That he received death threats from, his close officials. At the behest of the WFI president as he dared to draw the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on several issues plaguing Indians. Wrestling when he met her after the Tokyo Games.
“I know at least 10-12 women wrestlers who have told me about sexual exploitation at the hands of the WFI president. They have told me their stories. I can’t take their names now but I can definitely reveal them. If we get to meet the Prime Minister and the home minister of the country But the names,” Vinesh told the media after a four-hour dharna at Yantar Mantar.
Sitting next to Vinesh, Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Bajrang Punia. Said the federation was being run arbitrarily and would not participate in any international competition until the WFI president was removed. “Our fight is not against the government or the Sports Authority of India (SAI). It is against the WFI. ‘Ye ab ar paar ki ladai hai’ (the fight to end it). We will continue this protest till the WFI president becomes president. Removed, Bajrang Punia told news agency PTI.
WFI president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh responded to the allegations. “I came here as soon as I found out the wrestlers were protesting. Is there anyone on record who can say the federation molested us?” He said in a press conference. “If you had such problems with the federation, why didn’t anyone raise them for 10 years? Problems come up whenever rules are made.”
“There is no truth to the wrestlers’ allegations against me, even if a case of sexual harassment is proved, I am ready to hang,” WFI chief Brij Bhushan added. “I will not resign as WFI president but I am ready for a CBI or police probe.”
“An industrialist is behind this conspiracy against me. Why didn’t Vinesh go to the police when he received death threats,” he further alleged.