The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has denied all allegations, including allegations of sexual harassment, against its president, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and said the wrestlers’ protest was motivated by “an ulterior motive to overthrow the current leadership”.
The WFI denied all allegations in its response to the government notice and stated that “there is no place for arbitrariness and mismanagement in the federation.”
The Ministry of Sports demanded an explanation from the WFI after the country’s top wrestlers protested in New Delhi and said the head of the federation sexually harassed female wrestlers and acted like a “dictator”.
The WFI sent its response Friday night and hours later, the wrestlers canceled their protest after the government announced it would form an oversight committee to investigate the allegations. He also confirmed that the head of the WFI would step down pending the completion of the investigation.
“The WFI is governed by an elected body in accordance with its constitution, and therefore there is no room for arbitrariness and mismanagement on the part of anyone in particular, including the President,” the WFI said in a response to the Ministry of Sports.
“In particular, the WFI, under the current president, has always acted with the interests of the wrestlers in mind. fair, supportive, clean and strict governance of WFI,” the post reads.
The allegations were made by renowned wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Ravi Dahia.
The federation has made it known to the government that it has a five-member anti-sexual harassment committee chaired by its general secretary, VN Prasud, of which Sakshi is also a member.
It states that the accusations were “motivated, biased, unsubstantiated, false and false” and that the accusations were made solely to harm the president, the WFI and its coaches.
“Any injured person/wrestler may apply to said committee with their complaints, if any, and the committee is required to investigate in accordance with the law. However, there have been no complaints of this nature from the protesters/fighters,” WFI wrote.
Wrestlers including Anshu Malik, Sangita Phogat and Sonam Malik launched a sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday and demanded the dismissal of the head of the WFI. They also demanded the immediate dissolution of the WFI and the formation of a new commission including wrestlers.
The WFI listed 23 national events held in 2022 and said it “speaks of fair, supportive, clean and rigorous governance.”
— Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) (@wfi_wrestling) January 20, 2023
The WFI questioned the timing of the protest and said there were vested interests behind it.
“…who were clearly acting more in their own interests, or under undue pressure, or as part of some larger conspiracy to defame and defame the current leadership of the WFI or the president for their own personal interests only. the public, as well as the Ministry of Youth and Sports, especially when it is mostly seen that the protesters are gathering together from a certain region/state of Haryana,” the federation wrote.
“It is also worth noting that even the next WFI elections are due in the near future in 2023… that the protest is not in the interests of the fighters, it has some personal as well as hidden agendas to supplant the current WFI management.”
The letter, signed by WFI Secretary General V. N. Prasud, also states that the federation is ready to cooperate with the government and will provide all the necessary information that the ministry is looking for.