WFI president sexually assaulted women wrestlers, received death threats: Vinesh Phogat

SportsOther SportsWFI president sexually assaulted women wrestlers, received death threats: Vinesh Phogat
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In a shocking revelation, Vinesh Phogat wept on Wednesday, alleging that Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has been sexually abusing women wrestlers for many years, but the sport’s administrators and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders are keeping their fingers crossed. The MP rejected these allegations.

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Vinesh, a world championship medalist and Olympian, also claimed that women wrestlers were exploited by several coaches at the national camp in Lucknow. He alleged that there are some women in the camp who approach wrestlers at the behest of the WFI president.

The 28-year-old wrestler, however, clarified that she herself has not faced such abuse. ,

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Vinesh was so upset that she along with Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Bajrang Punia met Union Home Minister Amit Shah three months back.

Bajrang Punia, one of the country’s top wrestlers, told ‘PTI-Bhasha’, “We had met the Home Minister and he assured us that you will get justice.”

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Vinesh claimed that she had received death threats from officials close to her at the behest of the WFI president because she had dared to draw the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to these issues during his meeting with him after the Tokyo Olympic Games. ,

After sitting on a dharna for over four hours at Jantar Mantar here, Vinesh said, “I know at least 10-20 women wrestlers who have told me about the sexual harassment faced by the WFI president. He narrated his ordeal to me. I cannot name them now, but if we meet the Prime Minister and the Home Minister of the country, I can definitely reveal the names.

“I have received death threats from people who are close to the WFI president. If anything happens to any of us sitting here, only the WFI president will be responsible.

Sitting alongside Vinesh, Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Bajrang termed Singh as a “dictator” and said the federation was being run in an arbitrary manner and he would not participate in any international competition until the WFI president was removed. .

Besides the two, Rio Olympic medalist Sakshi Malik, World Championship medalist Sarita Mor, Sangeeta Phogat, Satyawart Kadian, Jitendra Kinha and Commonwealth Games medalist Sumit Malik are among the 30 wrestlers sitting on the dharna at Jantar Mantar.

Taking cognizance of the allegations, the Sports Ministry has sought an explanation from the WFI and directed it to ‘respond to the allegations within the next 72 hours’.

“If the WFI fails to respond within the next 72 hours, the ministry will initiate action against the federation in terms of the provisions of the National Sports Development Code, 2011,” the ministry said.

In view of the developments, the ministry also canceled the camp to be held at the SAI (Sports Authority of India) campus in Lucknow from Wednesday. ,

Bajrang, who was sitting with Vinesh in the dharna, told PTI, “Our fight is not against the government or the Sports Authority of India.” We are against WFI. We will give its details today. This is now an all-out fight.

“We will not participate in any international competition until the WFI president is removed,” he said. This is a fight to save Indian wrestling. We are being denied the help and support of foreign coaches while the chairman has hired a foreign coach for his academy in Gonda.

Bajrang’s support staff, including his coach Sujit Mann and physio Anand Dubey, were also on strike. ,

Bajrang said, “He uses indecent language against the players. We can also show you his video.

In December 2021, the WFI president slapped an over-aged wrestler during the Under-15 National Championships. This wrestler was insisting on competing after being disqualified. ,

The sitting BJP MP from Kaiserganj, Uttar Pradesh has refused to quit his post, denying all the allegations leveled against him.

The 66-year-old sports administrator said, “There is no truth in any of the allegations. Why should I leave my position? If the allegation of sexual harassment of even a single female wrestler is proved to be true, then I am ready to hang myself. There is an industrialist behind this (conspiracy).

He said, “There can be a CBI or police inquiry in this matter. There is no dictatorship. This is the same wrestler who met me a week back and didn’t say anything like that then. ,

When asked about Vinesh being threatened to kill someone close to him, he said, “Why didn’t Vinesh speak to me or contact the police at that time? Why didn’t she meet the Prime Minister or the Sports Minister? Why are you saying this now.

The WFI chief hinted that the new policy and rules introduced by him might be causing some discomfort to the wrestlers and hence the protests.

He said that wrestlers are being asked to participate in national championships and attend trials for fair selection and there is nothing wrong in that.

“Various states host national competitions and all want the best athletes of the country to compete. None of these wrestlers has participated in the national competition. We have made it clear that only athletes who compete and win the national championships will be selected for the national camp.

He said, “Haryana has been the pride of the country in this sport but we want to take wrestling to other states as well. That’s why we stopped the system of states sending multiple teams to the national competition.

Singh said, “States like Bihar, Jharkhand, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram are weak and we need to promote sports there. That’s why we started ‘National Open’ championship apart from regular national level championship and there also Haryana won 61 percent medals.

He alleged that Tirath Rana was misleading the wrestlers. Tirath Rana is a former wrestler who tried to join the Haryana Wrestling Federation, but was suspended by the sports body WFI and a new federation was later formed, supported by the national federation.

Vinesh said that she was labeled as an undisciplined athlete because she showed the courage to speak her mind.

“I am being harassed every day,” he said.

Asked why she didn’t raise the issue earlier, Vinesh said, “These are powerful, influential people. We could not muster the courage. Now we were left with no option. Now the water is crossing over the head. We also have to think about the next generation of players. ,

Bajrang then said, “We are nearing the end of our career. How long shall we play? 2024, 2026 or maybe 2028 but that is a question for the entire wrestling fraternity.

Vinesh was banned by the WFI for not wearing the official singlet (wrestlers’ jersey) during the Tokyo Olympic Games, but was later lifted after the wrestler tendered a written apology.

Vinesh said that she did not wear the singlet because it was of ‘very poor quality’. The WFI president clarified his position saying that he was facing action from the International Olympic Committee for flouting rules and was forced to take action against Vinesh as he did not want a ban on India.

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