Demanding strict action against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and several coaches who have been accused of allegedly sexually harassing multiple athletes, hundreds of wrestlers sat on protest in Delhi on Thursday. For the second day, top wrestlers like Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, among others gathered at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi at 10 AM, and were joined by other members from the fraternity. Vinesh Phogat, who is a triple Commonwealth Games medallist, went public with the allegations on Wednesday, before the country’s sports ministry asked the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to respond to the charges within 72 hours.
The wrestlers addressed a press conference on Thursday. Bajrang Punia, who had won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, told the media: “This is not a political protest. This is a protest for our rights. We thank all the wrestlers for joining us.”
Vinesh Phogat, on the other hand, said: “Women wrestlers have suffered enough, it’s time to speak up for our rights.”
Babita Phogat, 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, also joined the protest. “I’m a wrestler first. The BJP government is with the wrestlers. I will make sure that action is taken today itself. I’m a wrestler and I’m in the government as well, so it is my responsibility to mediate,” she said.
“I have heard instances of abuse in my career as well. There is no smoke without fire. These voices are important.”
WFI President Brij Bhushan Charan Singh, who is also a BJP MP, has refuted the charges.
Vinesh Phogat, 28, made the allegations against Mr Singh and trainers at a public protest in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, backed by several other top wrestlers.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the General Secretary of the Indian National Congress (INC), took to Twitter and said that the ‘voices of these players should be heard’.
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) January 19, 2023
“Our players are the pride of the country. They bring laurels to the country by their performance at the world level. The players have made serious allegations of exploitation against the Wrestling Federation and its president. The voices of these players should be heard. Allegations should be investigated and appropriate action taken,” she tweeted.
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