Top wrestlers say they were not consulted on panel formed to probe allegations against WFI chief

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Wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and Sakshee Malikkh on Tuesday alleged that the Ministry of Sports did not consult them while setting up the oversight committee takes to investigate the allegations of sexual harassment against the president of the Wrestling Federation of India Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

On January 21, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports had asked Singh to step down from his post for four weeks, during which the committee will complete its investigation against him. The committee also took over the day-to-day administration of the sport’s body till the investigation is completed.

“We were assured that before the Oversight Committee was set up, we would be consulted,” Phogat, Punia and Malik said in a similar tweet. “It is very sad that our views were not taken before the committee was formed.”

In a letter to the Indian Olympic Association on Friday, the wrestlers had demanded that Singh be removed as chief of the sports federation and the Wrestling Federation of India to be dissolved and replaced with a new one in consultation with them.

हमें आश्वासन दिया गया था कि Oversight Committee के गठन से पहले हमसे परामर्श किया जाएगा। बड़े दुख की बात है कि इस कमेटी के गठन से पहले हमसे राय भी नहीं ली गई. @narendramodi @AmitShah @ianuragthakur

— Vinesh Phogat (@Phogat_Vinesh) January 24, 2023

The oversight committee is headed by six-time boxing World Champion and 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist MC Mary Kom, along with London Olympics bronze-medal winning wrestlers Yogeshwar Dutt and 2006 Commonwealth Games bronze medal winner in badminton and Dhyan Chand Awardee Trupti Murgunde.

The three wrestlers had made the allegations last week against Singh and other members of the sport’s body accusing him of sexual exploitation and intimidation. Phogat had alleged that she knows at least 10 to 12 wrestlers who have been sexually harassed by Singh.

Besides allegations of sexual harassment, wrestlers have accused the Wrestling Federation of India of financial mismanagement. Singh had allegedly “mentally harassed and tortured” Phogat after she failed to win an Olympic medal in Tokyo that caused her to nearly contemplate suicide.

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