4-Hour Meeting With Sports Min Ends in Deadlock, Big Decisions Likely on Friday
The wrestlers have said 5-6 survivors have now come forward.
The Quint DAILY
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A late night four-hour long meeting between the protesting wrestlers and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur ended in a deadlock as the wrestlers departed from his New Delhi residence at 1:50 am on Friday morning, without making a statement.
It has been learned that Thakur gave Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia assurances of action, if their allegations of sexual harassment against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh are proven to be correct, but a decision will only be made on Friday, after the WFI submit their report on the matter to the Sports Ministry.
This was the wrestlers' second meeting with a Sports Ministry official on Thursday, with Sakshi, Vinesh, and Bajrang having spoken to Sports Secretary Sujata Chaturvedi, Director General SAI Sandip Pradhan, and Joint Secretary (Sports) Kunal earlier in the day.
"We were just gives assurances in the meeting. There was no concrete decision of action. We are not satisfied. We want the entire federation to be disbanded," Sakshi Malik had said following the afternoon meeting.
Earlier in the day, the wrestlers made their stand on Brij Bhushan clear, saying they would not be satisfied with only his resignation, but wanted the WFI, along with all affiliate state bodies, to be dissolved.
"We’re not talking about just his resignation. We will not stop at just his resignation. But if we are pushed further, we will make sure he is jailed as well," declared Vinesh as the protest extended into a second day at Delhi's Jantar Mantar.
"He (Brij Bhushan) said if survivors come forward, he will hang himself. Earlier we had 1-2 women, but now we have 5-6 women who are ready to come forward," added Bajrang Punia as Indian biggest wrestlers continue their protest against the alleged sexual harassment of Indian wrestlers by Brij Bhushan.
"If we are forced, we will file an FIR tomorrow, we will fight a case as well," added Vinesh.
"We are getting support from all corners and I request Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji to support us like he has always been supporting the athletes. We will continue to protest till their demands are meant. We are not afraid of Brij Bhushan anymore," she added.
'Want Federation Disbanded, Not Just Resignation'
The wrestlers were joined by more grapplers from the community in a show of strength as the gathered crowd at the sit-in protest increased on Thursday. While there has been no official word from the Sports Ministry since their press statement on Wednesday, where they issued a 72-hour deadline to Bhushan to issue his reply to the allegations, the wrestlers were invited to the Ministry on Thursday afternoon, which they said did not have a satisfactory outcome.
"We were just gives assurances in the meeting. There was no concrete decision of action. We are not satisfied. We want the entire federation to be disbanded," said Sakshi Malik.
"We don't want just his resignation, we want the federation to be disbanded. If you take his resignation, he will make sure his associates replace him," Bajrang told the waiting media. "We want the federation to be disbanded because his men are there in state associations and they work on his instructions. We don’t want only his resignation, we want the federation disbanded. That’s our demand," he added.
IOA Chief PT Usha Shows Support
A day after India's biggest wrestlers made serious allegations of sexual harassment against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, Indian Olympic Association's new president PT Usha took to social media to say she was "deeply concerned and disturbed".
"As a woman and former athlete and presently a sports administrator, I am deeply concerned and disturbed by the latest developments in Indian wrestling, where a section of the athletes has brought serious allegations against a senior official of the sport," Usha said in a tweet.
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