Wrestlers’ protest a ‘political conspiracy’, says WFI boss Singh

Under pressure to resign from his position over allegations of sexual exploitation of women wrestlers, Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chairman Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said he will expose the “political conspiracy”.

Singh, who is also a BJP Lok Sabha MP from Kaiserganj in Uttar Pradesh said he will hold a press conference later on Friday at the Wrestling Training Centre in Nawabganj in Gonda district of the state.

The development comes hours after India’s top wrestlers’ meeting with Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur remained inconclusive on Thursday night as they refused to back down from their demand that the government immediately disband the Wrestling Federation of India.

Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya, Sakshi Malik and world championship medallist Vinesh Phogat met Thakur at his residence in New Delhi in a marathon meeting on Thursday.

The Union Sports Ministry has also given a deadline to the WFI to respond within 72 hours to the allegations made by the wrestlers. The Ministry stated that if the WFI fails to furnish the reply within the next 72 hours, it will proceed to initiate action against the federation in terms of the provisions of the National Sports Development Code, 2011. The deadline expires on Saturday.

The wrestlers have levelled charges of sexual harassment of women wrestlers by WFI president Singh and its coaches  of mismanagement in the functioning of the federation. They demanded a complete overhaul of the federation.

“We want a complete overhaul of the Wrestling Federation. The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) should be dissolved and restructured. There are people in the state wrestling associations too that have linkups with the WFI President. We also want the state associations to be restructured,” Bajrang said on Thursday.

The protesting wrestlers have demanded resignation of the WFI chairman and action to be taken against him.

Vinesh alleged that coaches who are favourites of the WFI misbehave with women and harass them. She also accused Singh of sexually harassing girls and calling her a ‘khota sikka’ after her defeat at the Tokyo Olympics.

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