'No ICC Within WFI': Official After Sexual Harassment Allegations by Wrestlers

"The general council will decide on the formation and composition of the committee," the official said.

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Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) assistant secretary Vinod Tomar confirmed to The Quint that till date, no Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) has been formed within the organisation to look into complaints of sexual harassment.

The biggest names in Indian wrestling came forward on Wednesday, 18 January, to make allegations of sexual harassment against federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. Bhushan, a BJP MP, has denied all claims but has been given a 72-hour deadline by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to send a formal response to the complaints.

"The WFI constitution mentions the provision of forming a committee to deal with sexual harassment cases. But we currently don't have such a body in action. Following yesterday's events, we have called for an extraordinary general meeting on 22 January. The general council will decide on the formation and composition of the committee in that meeting," Tomar told The Quint.

Under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, every organisation is to set up an ICC to look into allegations, if any. So, how do wrestlers approach the federation with a sexual harassment complaint?

"The wrestlers lodge complaints directly to the federation. Till date, there hasn't been any official complaint received by us regarding sexual harassment. Alternatively, wrestlers can also report such instances to SAI, but we have spoken with SAI and confirmed they haven't received such complaints either," Tomar said.


What Are the Allegations?

Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat, along with other Indian wrestlers, gathered at Delhi's Jantar Mantar to protest against the WFI, accusing the federation's president and coaches of sexually harassing women wrestlers.

Olympic bronze medalist Bajrang Punia told The Quint, "The girls have braved all odds to bring out the allegations today. The worst thing that could happen to a female sportsperson is sexual harassment, but they have been facing it for a long time. This is the truth of WFI."

"We will continue with our protests until the WFI president is removed from his position, and correct measures are taken against the perpetrators. This has been going on for years, but we will put an end to it" he added.

Three-time gold medal winner at Commonwealth Games, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, alleged that the coaches and the president have been sexually harassing the women wrestlers "for years."

"Women wrestlers have been sexually harassed at national camps by coaches and also the WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Sharma. Some of the coaches appointed at national camps have been sexually harassing women Wrestlers for years. The WFI president is also involved in sexual harassment," she said.

"Whole federation should be removed so that the future of new wrestlers is safe. A new federation should come into existence. Dirt has spread from the lower level. We'll speak to PM & HM & reveal details. Investigation must be done on some matters," wrestler Sakshi Malikkh added, as quoted by the news agency ANI.

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Topics:  Wrestlers Protest 

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