The United World Wrestling (UWW) on Tuesday condemned the detention of India’s top wrestlers during their protest in Jantar Mantar and threatened to suspend the national federation WFI if it fails to hold its election within the stipulated time.
The world body said it has been keeping an eye on the protest by the wrestlers against the outgoing Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for allegedly sexually harassing several women.
“For several months, United World Wrestling has followed with great concern the situation in India where wrestlers are protesting over allegations of abuse and harassment by the President of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI),” UWW said in a statement.
“It has taken due note that the WFI President has been put aside at an early stage and is currently not in charge.”
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Unprecedented scenes of police dragging Olympic and world championships medallists, including Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sangeeta Phogat, were witnessed when the wrestlers and their supporters breached the security cordon during their march towards the new Parliament building for the planned women’s ‘Mahapanchayat’ on Sunday.
The wrestlers are demanding the arrest of outgoing WFI president Brij Bhushan for allegedly sexually harassing several women wrestlers, including a minor.
They had called for a women’s Mahapanchayat at the new Parliament building at a time when it was being inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The events of these last days are even more worrying that the wrestlers were arrested and temporarily detained by the police for initiating a march of protest. The site where they had been protesting for more than a month has also been cleared out by the authorities.
“UWW firmly condemns the treatment and detention of the wrestlers. It expresses its disappointment over the lack of results of the investigations so far. UWW urges the relevant authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations.
“As it has already done since the beginning of this situation, UWW will hold a meeting with the wrestlers to inquire about their condition and safety and reconfirm our support for a fair and just resolution of their concerns.”
The Sports Ministry had asked the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to form an ad-hoc committee to conduct the elections for the Executive Committee of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) within 45 days of its formation.
On April 27, a two-member ad-hoc committee was formed to run the day-to-day affairs of WFI and also conduct the elections. It has been 33 days since, leaving the body with just 12 days to hold the polls.
UWW said it will ban the national federation if it fails to hold the elective general assembly on time.
“Finally, UWW will request further information about the next elective general assembly from the IOA and the Ad-hoc Committee of the WFI. The 45-day deadline that was initially set to hold this elective assembly shall be respected,” it said.
“Failing to do so may lead UWW to suspend the federation, thereby forcing the athletes to compete under a neutral flag. It is reminded that UWW already took a measure in this situation by reallocating the Asian Championship planned in New Delhi earlier this year.”