Responding to the ongoing wrestlers’ protest against sexual harassment, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur claimed that the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MYAS) is working in accordance with the steps outlined by the oversight committee, albeit also suggesting the protestors could have lodged police complaints before sitting on a dharna.
The nation’s top grapplers are protesting against the sidelined Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, by sitting on a dharna in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar since 23 April.
Having expressed dissatisfaction with the MYAS-formed oversight committee’s probe, accusing the committee members of shedding ‘fake tears,’ the wrestlers are now demanding Singh’s arrest.
Thakur, however, stated that the ministry is following the committee’s recommendations, by saying “We are working as per the recommendations of the oversight committee. Based on their suggestions, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was empowered to conduct fair elections.”
“This was also the demand of the wrestlers, and it has always been the case, where IOA had been called to conduct elections. The IOA also constituted its ad hoc committee yesterday, which will conduct elections in the next 45 days. A new body will be selected and a retired judge will also be appointed. This whole committee should constitute selection, organizing and internal complaint committee where any player can lodge complaints,” he further added.
However, following PT Usha’s comments about the protests ‘tarnishing India’s image,’ Thakur maintained a similar tone as he stated “As far as the FIR (against Singh) is concerned, the wrestlers could have lodged a police complaint before sitting on a dharna, or even during the initial protests (in January).”
Everyone Was Given an Opportunity To Have Their Say: Anurag Thakur
Whilst the wrestlers have maintained that their testimonies of sexual harassment by Singh have not been included in the committee’s report to MYAS, Thakur claimed that everyone was provided with an opportunity to record their statements – while also maintaining that the committee’s formation was made in accordance to suit the female wrestlers.
I met them (protesting wrestlers) last time around as well. The Government’s sports secretary also met them. I sat with the wrestlers for many hours, not for one, but two days. After talking to them, a fact-finding committee and an oversight committee were formed. All the people were given an opportunity to appear before that committee and give their testimonies. The committee also had more women members than men, simply because the female wrestlers would be more comfortable in speaking to them.Anurag Thakur
Meanwhile, four days after the wrestlers move Supreme Court, seeking an FIR against Singh, Delhi Police informed that they have decided to register FIR on Friday, 28 April.