Vinesh, Sakshi accuse WFI president of sexual harassment; Phogat says Brij

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NEW DELHI: Indian sports on Wednesday was rocked by serious allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation by the country’s leading women wrestlers, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik, who jointly accused ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) member of parliament and wrestling federation’s (WFI) chief, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, of sexually exploiting several women grapplers at national camps for years.
Vinesh, a double World Championships medallist and a three-time CWG gold winner, also accused Singh of indirectly issuing death threats to her through some influential WFI office-bearers after she met Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally along with her family in October 2021 on her return from Tokyo Olympics and discussed the difficulties faced by the Indian wrestlers rising up the ranks, WFI’s irrational selection policies and the federation’s high-handedness faced by some of the leading wrestlers.
Vinesh and Rio Olympics bronze winner Sakshi, flanked by Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia, staged a four-hour long sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar here, demanding action against Singh and other WFI office-bearers of being complicit in his wrongdoings. They also blamed some national coaches, accusing them and Singh of sexually harassing wrestlers at the Sports Authority of India-run (SAI) Netaji Subhas regional centre in Lucknow, where the national camps for women wrestlers are organised.

Bajrang Punia to Vinesh Phogat - Why are India's medal-winning wrestlers protesting on the streets of Delhi?

Bajrang Punia to Vinesh Phogat – Why are India’s medal-winning wrestlers protesting on the streets of Delhi?

“Several women wrestlers have been sexually exploited by Singh over the years. Some female wrestlers who are sitting here with me at the protest site are victims of sexual harassment by him. I won’t be taking names but at least 20 girls I know have been sexually harassed at the camp. I have never personally faced such exploitation but have heard several stories about his misdeeds. Why does he always hold the national camp in Lucknow? It’s because his home is in Lucknow and it’s convenient for him to indulge in such acts. He is a big-time politician, a strongman who wields a lot of money and muscle power. No one dares speak against him because everyone knows what he can do with our lives. But today, we decided to break our silence and expose him in front of the entire world because we have had enough of this man,” a weeping Vinesh told a jam-packed press conference.
Singh is a five-time MP from Kaiserganj in Uttar Pradesh. When contacted, Singh refuted all the allegations against him by saying the protest had been called at the behest of a country’s leading industrialist associated with Indian wrestling. “I won’t name him but it is at his behest that these wrestlers are protesting. I am not going to leave my post just because certain allegations have been levelled against me. I am open to any inquiry by the government. This is a big issue and I know it will not die down easily.”
The protesting wrestlers included…

Read More: Vinesh, Sakshi accuse WFI president of sexual harassment; Phogat says Brij 2023-01-18 17:27:00

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