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Wrestlers vs WFI President: Brij Bhushan, accused of sexual harassment, likely to resign at AGM on Sunday?

Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has been accused of sexually exploiting women wrestlers for years, a charge vehemently rejected by the sports administrator.

Wrestlers vs WFI President: Brij Bhushan, accused of sexual harassment, likely to resign at AGM on Sunday snt
First Published Jan 19, 2023, 4:05 PM IST

Amid allegations of sexual harassment, sources claim under-fire Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is likely to step down even as India's top wrestlers continue demanding complete disbandment of the governing body.

Sources added that Singh, the BJP MP from Kaiserganj, is expected to announce his resignation as WFI President at the Annual General Meeting scheduled on Sunday, January 22.

Also read: Wrestlers vs WFI: 'Know their pain; will try to get the solution that the wrestlers want' - Babita Phogat

Top Indian wrestlers, including three-time CWG champion Vinesh Phogat and the Olympic bronze medallist duo of Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, sat in protest at the Jantar Mantar for the second day straight on Thursday against Singh.

Phogat, who has been at loggerheads with the WFI since the Tokyo Olympic Games, also claimed that several coaches at the national camp in Lucknow have also exploited women wrestlers, adding that there are a few women at the camp who approached the wrestlers at the behest of the WFI president. The 28-year-old, however, clarified that she never faced such exploitation but claimed that "one victim" was present at the 'dharna'.

Bajrang, Anshu Malik, Sakshi and Vinesh have demanded that the WFI be disbanded and a new federation is formed, even as Singh denied sexual harassment allegations.

Singh was elected unopposed as president of WFI for a third consecutive term in February 2019. "There is no truth in any of the allegations. Why should I quit? Even if one woman wrestler comes and proves the sexual harassment charge, I am ready to be hanged. There is an industrialist behind it (conspiracy)," said the 66-year-old WFI President on Wednesday.

Also read: Brij Bhushan denies sexual harassment claims; says won't quit as WFI President

"There can be an investigation by the CBI or police. There is no dictatorship. These same wrestlers had met me a week back and did not say anything," he added. 

Responding to the allegation of death threats given to Vinesh on his behalf, Brij Bhushan said, "Why Vinesh did not talk to me or approached the police at that time? Why did she not meet the PM or the Sports Minister? Why is she saying this now."

Wrestlers vs WFI President: Brij Bhushan, accused of sexual harassment, likely to resign at AGM on Sunday snt

Meanwhile, the sports ministry took note of the allegations and sought an explanation from WFI and directed it to reply within the next 72 hours on the allegations made. 

The Delhi Commission for Women has also issued notices to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the city police. The DCW said it had taken suo moto cognisance of media reports about allegations of sexual harassment made against Singh and some wrestling coaches, the panel said. The panel has also asked the police to register an FIR in the matter. 

"As per the reports, renowned women Olympian wrestlers of India have accused the WFI president and some coaches of sexually harassing women wrestlers. This is a very a serious matter," the panel said.

It has sought a copy of complaints made by women wrestlers against coaches and WFI president, alongwith details of action taken thereon by January 21. It has also sought details of the Internal Complaints Committee formed by the Wrestling Federation of India. 

Also read: Wrestlers vs WFI President: 'Remove Brij Bhushan' chorus grows amid multiple sexual abuse claims

The panel also asked whether these complaints have been forwarded to the ICC and the Local Complaint Committee (LCC) as per the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. 

(With inputs from PTI)

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