WFI: India Sports Ministry Admits to Lapses as Wrestlers Continue Protest
Asia Crime India Sports

WFI: India Sports Ministry Admits to Lapses as Wrestlers Continue Protest

India’s sports ministry has admitted to structural lapses in the federation governing Indian wrestling after top athletes resumed their protests on Sunday.

They have been demanding the arrest of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Singh for alleged sexual abuse.

Mr Singh has denied the allegations.

The ministry has not commented on the sexual misconduct charges in its letter to the Indian Olympic Association.

The protesting wrestlers have also petitioned the Supreme Court seeking to register a case against Mr Singh.

They allege that the police have not registered a case against the WFI chief despite several female wrestlers lodging police complaints against him, accusing him of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation.

On Tuesday, the top court said the allegations in the petition were “serious” and asked the Delhi police to explain why they hadn’t registered a case.

In January, several top athletes, including wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, had held protests accusing Mr Singh and other officials of sexually harassing female wrestlers for years.

At the time, the WFI had denied all the allegations made by the wrestlers, including that of sexual misconduct.

As the protests continued, the government asked Mr Singh to step aside for a few weeks and formed a panel to oversee the federation’s activities.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) also set up a committee to investigate the allegations against Mr Singh, who is a lawmaker and politician from the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The committee submitted its report in April but its findings haven’t been made public yet.

On Monday, India’s sports ministry said the IOA’s report was “under examination” but flagged some “major findings” after a preliminary scrutiny of it.

It admitted that the WFI had no Internal Complaints Committee – as mandated by law – to deal with allegations of sexual harassment within the organisation and added that there was a “need for more transparency” and “effective communication” between the WFI and sportspersons.

President of the IOA PT Usha said that the association would discuss the issue on 27 April and provide “actionable solutions to the current impasse in WFI”.

India’s top athletes have been protesting at Jantar Mantar, a heritage site in the capital, Delhi, since Sunday.

On Sunday night, Vinesh Phogat, a two-time World Championship medallist, tweeted a photo of the protesters sleeping in the open.

“From podium to footpath! Under the open sky at night in the hope of justice,” she tweeted.

Source : BBC