Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Thursday said the government gave ample chance to the protesting wrestlers to present their case before the oversight committee, and reiterated its commitment to an ”impartial probe” into the charges against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Decorated wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik are the three central characters in the renewed protests against the Wrestling Federation of India president, who has been accused of sexual harassment and intimidation by the grapplers. ”A few wrestlers are sitting in protest at Jantar Mantar. I have spent 12 hours hours with them — seven hours on the first day and five hours the next day. I had listened to all their grievances, held a press conference at 2-2.30 at night, formed a committee after talking to them. ”They had asked to add a member and gave Babita Phogat’s name and we added her to the committee. There is nothing in our mind, we wanted an impartial probe,” Thakur said at a press conference here.
”Whoever wanted to present their version before the oversight committee, was given a chance to do so, there were no restrictions. We even increased the timeline of the probe, there were 14 meetings. Whoever wanted to come, came. We gave a chance to every athlete to present their case.” The grapplers resumed their protest at Jantar Mantar, demanding that an FIR be registered and a thorough probe be conducted by police against Sharan, a BJP MP from Gonda in Uttar Pradesh.
Thakur added, ”The major findings of the committee were that an impartial elections of WFI takes place, and till that time an ad-hoc committee takes over the affairs of WFI, and the elections be held under 45 days.
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”An internal complaints committee be formed to address any mental, sexual harassment complaint. Not just that we have given the responsibility on IOA to look after all these matters, including selection of teams till the elections are held,” he said.
”If anyone wants to file an FIR he or she can do that anywhere and it should not matter how old the case may be. Delhi Police said that they will conduct a preliminary inquiry and after that they will take the next step.” The sports minister reiterated that the top priority of the BJP government will always be sports and wellbeing of sportspersons.
”Modi government is always with the athletes, and will be always there to promote sports and sportspersons,” Thakur said.
”Our priority is sports and sportspersons and we will never compromise on that.”