IOA forms seven-member panel to probe sexual harassment allegations against WFI chief

New Delhi: The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Friday formed a seven-member committee to probe the allegations of sexual harassment levelled against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh by the top grapplers of the country.

The panel members include boxer M.C. Mary Kom, wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, archer Dola Banerjee, Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) president Sahdev Yadav, Alaknanda Ashok, and two advocates.

The decision was taken during IOA’s emergency executive council meeting which was attended by the likes of Abhinav Bindra, Yogeshwar along with IOA president P.T. Usha and joint secretary Kalyan Chaubey. Shiva Keshvan was a special invitee at the meeting.

Earlier on Friday, the protesting wrestlers had written to IOA chief P.T. Usha, accusing Brij Bhushan Saran Singh of sexual exploitation and financial irregularities.

The letter, which was signed by top wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya, Shakshi Malik and Deepak Punia, demanded the resignation of the WFI chief and the formation of an inquiry committee to probe the charges of sexual harassment.

The letter further stated that Vinesh was mentally harassed and tortured by the WFI chief after she missed out on an Olympic medal in Tokyo, which led her to almost contemplate suicide.

The wrestlers complained about the quality of coaches available in the national camps, calling them ‘incompetent’ and mere ‘informants’ for Brij Bhushan Singh. They added that these views are also being shared by several young wrestlers in the federation.

They also made four demands to the IOA. First, the grapplers requested the IOA to immediately appoint a committee to inquire into the complaints of sexual harassment. Then they demanded dissolution of the WFI and the resignation of the WFI President. They also demanded a new committee to be formed to run the affairs of the WFI in consultation with the wrestlers.

The letter also stated that there is no involvement of any political party in the wrestlers’ protest against Brij Bhushan Singh, adding that they will not budge until Singh is sacked from the post of WFI President.

Notably, P.T. Usha had on Thursday stated that the athletes should come forward to voice their concerns.

“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 the IOA. We request the athletes to come forward and voice their concerns with us,” Usha had tweeted.

“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 had posted on her social media handle,” she added.

Amid all these developments, the wrestlers continue their protest at the Jantar Mantar in the national capital.


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