Wrestling row: Fissures in WFI after sports ministry sets up Oversight Committee, claim sources

New Delhi: The ongoing tussle between grapplers and the Wrestling Federation of India has led to friction among the officials of the sport’s governing body and informal meetings are on to plan future course if WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh gets sidelined, sources told IANS.

The development comes a day after Sports Minister Anurag Thakur announced the composition of the Oversight Committee to handle the day-to-day functioning of the WFI and also look into the serious allegations made by the wrestlers.

“The members of the federation are meeting informally. Some are not in favour of Brij Bhushan continuing since the allegations are really serious and it has affected the image of the federation globally. However, everything depends on the outcome of the report submitted by the committees,” sources added.

The wrestlers had staged a protest at Jantar Mantar accusing WFI President Brij Bhushan of sexual harassment of women wrestlers, embezzlement of sponsorship funds, and athletes’ mismanagement.

Earlier on Tuesday, Olympic medallist grapplers Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik expressed their disappointment that wrestlers were not consulted before the formation of the Oversight Committee by the government.

Taking to Twitter, the Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist said: “We were assured that we would be consulted before the Oversight Committee was formed. It is very sad that we were not even consulted before the formation of this committee.”

He also tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Sports Minister Anurag Singh Thakur.

On Monday, Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs announced the formation of the MC Mary Kom-led five-member Oversight Committee that includes Olympic medallist grappler Yogeshwar Dutt, former India badminton player Trupti Murgunde, former CEO of Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) Capt Rajagopalan and former SAI Executive Director (Teams) Radhica Sreeman.

Last week, Thakur announced the formation of the Oversight Committee to handle the day-to-day activities of the WFI after a group of wrestlers led by Olympians Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, Ravi Dhaiya and Deepak Punia sat on a protest at the Jantar Mantar alleging many irregularities by WFI including mismanagement of governance and sexual harassment of women grapplers by coaches and the WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Earlier, the minister also informed that Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has been asked to cease functioning as WFI president till the inquiry by the Oversight Committee is completed and has been told not to interfere in the day-to-day functioning of the WFI.

The Indian wrestlers had called off their protest last Friday night after a second meeting at Thakur’s residence in the national capital.


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