The Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports announced on Monday that the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) will be forming an ad-hoc committee to conduct the elections for the Executive Committee of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) within 45 days of its formation, to manage day-to-day affairs of the body, including the selection of athletes and making entries for the participation of players in international events. This committee will be functioning for an interim period till a new Executive Committee takes charge.
A letter from the Sports Ministry, the Under Secretary to the Centre, said, “I am directed to say that the Ministry, vide order dated 23 January 2023, has appointed an Oversight Committee (OC) for the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) after allegations made by certain prominent athletes against the President, Officials and some coaches of the Federation for sexual harassment, as also regarding financial mismanagement and arbitrariness in the Functioning of the Federation.”
The letter pointed out that the oversight committee has submitted its report to the Sports Ministry and is currently under examination. The preliminary scrutiny of the report has resulted in the following major findings:
-Absence of a duly constituted Internal Complaints Committee under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013, and lack of an adequate mechanism for awareness building among sportspersons, for grievance redressal, etc.
-Need for more transparency and consultation between the Federation and stakeholders, including the sportspersons
-Need for effective communication between the Federation and the sportspersons.
“It may also be noted that after the submission of the report, the OC has ceased to exist,” added the letter.
The ministry in its letter declared the WFI elections, scheduled to be held on May 7 as per media reports and a notice by WFI on its website as “null and void”, calling for new elections under a neutral body/returning officer.
“Meanwhile, based on the reports in media, and from the notice dated 16.04.2023 posted on the official website of the WFI. it is understood that the election to the EC has been scheduled on May 7, 2023. In this regard, considering the current situation, it is expedient that the said election process should be treated as null and void, and that fresh elections to the EC should be conducted under a neutral body/Returning Officer,” said the letter.
“Since Wrestling is an Olympic Sport and WFI is an affiliate member of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and taking note of the current situation of administrative void in WFI, it becomes incumbent on part of the IOA to make suitable interim arrangements for managing WFI so that sportspersons of wrestling discipline do not suffer in any manner.”
“In light of the aforementioned, it is requested that a transitory committee or Ad-Hoc Committee may be constituted by the IOA to conduct the election of the Executive Committee of the WA within 45 days of its formation and, to manage the affairs of WFI, including the selection of athletes and making of entries for the participation of sportspersons in international events, for the interim period till the newly elected Executive Committee takes charge,” concluded the letter.
Notably, Delhi Police on Monday sought a report from the investigation committee set up by the Union Sports Ministry to investigate the allegations against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and has begun a probe into the fresh complaint by wrestlers, a senior officer said on Monday.
“A report has been sought from the probe committee and after that, the investigation can get a direction. Seven players had filed a complaint against the WFI chief. Many facts will come to the fore after getting the report of the committee,” said the Delhi Police official.
After a protest led by some prominent wrestlers of the country this January, the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports had announced the formation of an ‘oversight committee’ to probe allegations levelled against the WFI and its chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and other coaches.
The committee was tasked with submitting a report on the issue to the ministry.
Top wrestlers have now resumed their sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar here in the national capital after filing a complaint at the Connaught Place police station on Friday (April 21) stating that seven female wrestlers, including one minor, were harassed and exploited by Brij Bhushan in his capacity as WFI chief.
Olympic medalist Bajrang Punia said that this time “all parties are welcome” to join them and they won’t back down till action is taken against the BJP MP.
“It’s been more than 48 hours since the complaint was made, but an FIR has not been filed yet,” Punia told ANI.
The ace wrestler said that this time they will not turn down anyone, and whoever wants to support their protest could come and join them.
“…This time, all parties are welcome to join our protest whether it is BJP, Congress, AAP or any other party…..we’re not affiliated with any party…,” he said.
Delhi Commission For Women (DCW) has issued a notice to Delhi Police to register an FIR on the issue.
Top Indian wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Ravi Dahiya, and Sakshi Malik, held a sit-in protest in Jantar Mantar in January this year, demanding that Brij Bhushan be removed from the head office and the Wrestling Federation of India be disbanded.
They had accused the WFI body and its chief of sexual harassment and mistreatment of wrestlers.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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