Former Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, a part of the Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) seven-member committee to probe the wrestlers’ allegations of sexual harassment against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, said that the panel will prepare a report within eight to ten days, which will then be submitted to the Sports Ministry, Home Ministry and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has formed a seven-member committee to probe the allegations of sexual harassment against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. Members of the committee include Olympic medallist Mary Kom, former archer Dola Banerjee, Alaknanda Ashok, London Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, Indian Weightlifting Federation President Sahdev Yadav and two advocates, the IOA announced on Friday.
“The Committee will prepare a report within 8-10 days after listening to both sides. We will send the report to both the Sports Ministry and Home Ministry as well as to the Prime Minister,” said Yogeshwar to the media. The former grappler remarked that the allegations are extremely serious in nature.
“There can be no compromise in sexual harassment allegations. If it happened, it should be probed and the accused must be punished,” added Dutt. “Also, if the allegations are false, it should be probed why were they levelled and what was the motive behind this?” concluded Dutt.
Notably, the wrestlers’ protest was called off early on Saturday with Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur announcing that Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh will “step aside” till the investigation by the “oversight committee” into the allegations is completed. Thakur announced the constitution of an oversight committee to probe the allegations levelled against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and assured that justice would prevail in four weeks.
“Considering the demands of the sportspersons, we have decided to constitute an oversight committee, whose names will be announced tomorrow. The investigation will be completed in the next four weeks, wherein all the allegations levelled will be thoroughly probed to take a final decision,” Thakur said addressing a press conference at his residence in the national capital during the early hours of Saturday. Thakur also said that WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh would step aside till the probe ends.
“The committee will see all the day-to-day workings till the investigation completes, and till then Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh will step aside and cooperate with the investigation,” he said. Further addressing the mediapersons, Thakur said that the players kept their demands and a detailed discussion about it took place. “We had issued a notice to the Wrestling Federation of India when the allegations were levelled and asked them to respond within 72 hours, and they did. Similarly, we seek their timely support and cooperation so that the matter can be resolved soon,” he added.
In the press conference, Thakur was accompanied by wrestlers Sakshee Malikkh, Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Ravi Dahiya and several others. Extending gratitude for the government’s concern, ace India wrestler Bajrang Punia said, “The Union Sports Minister listened to our demands and has assured us that a proper investigation will be done. I thank him and we are hopeful that a fair probe will be done, hence we are calling off the protest.”
The protest by wrestlers, including Olympic and Commonwealth Games (CWG) medalists, was held in Delhi, as women wrestlers levelled serious charges of sexual harassment by the president and coaches of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and of mismanagement in the functioning of the federation. However, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh refuted the allegations and claimed he would expose the ‘political conspiracy’ in a press conference in Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda yesterday.