Top wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik say not consulted on key panel announced by sports minister

THREE OF India’s top wrestlers who spearheaded a protest last week to highlight charges of sexual harassment against Wrestling Federation of India president and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, said Tuesday that the Sport Ministry did not keep its word and failed to consult them while setting up an oversight committee to probe their charges.

Tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik posted similar tweets that said: “We were assured that before the Oversight Committee was set up, we would be consulted. It is very sad that our views were not taken before the committee was formed.”

Another top wrestler, world championship bronze medallist Sarita Mor, too, took to social media with the same tweet.

The tweets were posted a day after Thakur announced the formation of the oversight committee, headed by boxing legend Mary Kom, to take over the WFI’s role in running the sport and probe the allegations against the federation’s top brass and coaches.

The protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi was called off last Friday after the wrestlers held a five-hour meeting with Thakur, who promised them that their demands would be met and allegations investigated.

The other members of the oversight committee, which was announced Monday, are Olympic medallist-wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, former badminton player and Mission Olympic Cell member Trupti Murgunde, former CEO of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme Rajesh Rajagopalan, and former Sports Authority of India executive director (teams) Radhika Sreeman.

Dutt, a London Olympics bronze medallist had contested on a BJP ticket during the Baroda (Haryana) bypoll in 2020 and lost. Mary Kom was nominated as a Rajya Sabha MP by the Centre in 2016.

Dutt and Mary Kom are also part of another committee set up by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) last week to look into the wrestlers’ allegations. The IOA committee also comprises archer Dola Banerjee, Indian Weightlifting Association president Sahdev Yadav, and two advocates Shlok Chandra and Talish Ray.

Last week, accusing Brij Bhushan of sexual harassment, Vinesh had said, “Women wrestlers have been sexually harassed at national camps by coaches and also the WFI president. 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.”

The wrestlers had also accused Singh of being autocratic and raised issues of financial irregularity in the WFI. Thakur could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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