New Delhi: Top Indian wrestlers refused to back down from their demand that the government initiate immediate steps to disband the Wrestling Federation of India as they met Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur.
Celebrated Indian wrestlers, including Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, world championship medallist Vinesh Phogat and others have been staging a sit-in protest for the last two days at Jantar Mantar here against WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, accusing him of sexual exploitation and intimidation.
On Thursday night, the protesting wrestlers led by Vinesh and Bajrang besides Sakshi, Anshu Malik, Ravi Dahiya, Sarita Mor and others met Thakur at his residence and demanded speedy action.
The two sides were involved in a marathon meeting which ended around 2 am, with the parties failing to find a tangible solution thus far.
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According to sources, the government wants the wrestlers to end their protest but the athletes are adamant that the WFI should be disbanded first.
“The government can resolve other issues later… we are fine with that, but it must disband the WFI first,” a source close to the wrestlers told PTI.
A team of wrestlers, including Bajrang, Vinesh, Anshu, Sakshi and her husband Satyawrat Kadiyan met government officials earlier on Thursday and discussed their issues with Sports Secretary Sujata Chaturvedi, Sports Authority of India Director General Sandip Pradhan and Joint Secretary (Sports) Kunal.
During the hour-long meeting, the wrestlers were asked to end their protest and assured that their grievances will be addressed.
The WFI is yet to submit a response to the Sports Ministry, which has sought an explanation over the wrestlers’ allegations.
The ministry cannot force Brij Bhushan to resign unless it receives a written reply since the government itself had asked the WFI for an explanation.
Former wrestler and BJP leader Babita Phogat was also part of the meeting.