The president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has called for a press conference on Friday, 20 January, amid accusations of sexual harassment of female grapplers. In an announcement made on Facebook, the WFI chief stated that he will meet the press at 4pm IST for a conference, wherein he will ‘reveal all secrets.’
“(There is a) political conspiracy against wrestling, an attempt to curb the respect of female wrestlers. Who is behind this conspiracy? Member of Parliament will be revealing all secrets today,” the post read.
Singh, who is also a politician with the Bharatiya Janata Party and a Member of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh’s Kaiserganj, has been accused of sexually, and mentally, harassing female wrestlers ‘for years.’
Many renowned Indian wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, have been sitting on a dharna in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, demanding the resignation of the chief and dissolution of the current WFI committee.
Speaking to the media, Commonwealth Games medallist Vinesh Phogat stated “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.”
Tokyo Olympics’ bronze medallist, Bajrang Punia further corroborated their stance by informing The Quint “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.”
On Thursday, 19 January, the wrestlers met Youth Affairs and Sports Minister, Anurag Thakur, at his Delhi residence. While the meeting lasted four hours, there was no solution agreed upon, with another round of meeting reportedly scheduled for today.
WFI Chief Claims to ‘Reveal Who Is Behind Conspiracy'
Singh, however, has refuted every accusation against him, saying it is a ‘political conspiracy,” This is a conspiracy against me, and a big industrialist has a hand in it. I am ready to face any kind of investigation. Sexual harassment never happened. If even one athlete comes forward and proves this, I will hang myself,” the informed the reporters following the wrestlers’ allegation.
The WFI were given a 72-hour deadline to furnish a reply by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports on Wednesday, while they have called for an ‘extraordinary general meeting’ on Sunday, 22 January.