The Union Sports Ministry on Saturday suspended all activities of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), a day after the government asked federation president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh to step down until a The Vigilance Committee does not complete the investigation into the allegations against them.
The government also suspended Assistant Secretary of the Federation Vinod Tomar. The WFI is scheduled to hold an extraordinary annual general meeting in Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda on Sunday, where Singh is set to address members about the unprecedented protest by the country’s top wrestlers, who have been “sexually harassed” against him. “Harassment and mental torture”. .
Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, after a second round of talks with the protesting wrestlers late on Friday night, announced a monitoring committee that would “probe the allegations of sexual misconduct, financial irregularities and administrative lapses and daily will take action against the administration of WFI”.
The committee – the names of the members are likely to be announced on Sunday – will complete the probe in a month and by then “the WFI president will step aside from day-to-day work and has assured to cooperate with the probe,” Thakur said. had said
However, it was business as usual for Singh on Saturday as he opened the Open National Senior Ranking tournament in his hometown of Gonda, which did not go down well with the sports ministry. The ministry issued a fresh directive on Saturday night announcing that the tournament has been cancelled.
“The Sports Ministry on Saturday informed the Wrestling Federation of India that in view of the government’s decision to appoint a monitoring committee to investigate various allegations leveled against the federation by the athletes, the WFI has suspended all ongoing activities. will suspend with immediate effect, until a monitoring committee is duly appointed and takes over the day-to-day functioning of the WFI,” a ministry statement said.
“In view of the directive to suspend all activities immediately, the Sports Ministry has asked the WFI to cancel the ongoing ranking tournament in Gonda, UP. The Ministry has directed the WFI to cancel the ongoing event. The entry fee charged shall be refunded to the participants.
The development came after the WFI on Wednesday sent an eight-page detailed reply to a clarification sought by the sports ministry, citing allegations of ‘sexual harassment’ by wrestlers against Singh. Rejecting the allegations, including allegations of baseless”
“No adverse action has been called for against the federation in terms of the provisions of the National Sports Development Code of India,” the WFI said.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has also set up a seven-member internal committee headed by Athletes’ Commission chairperson and boxing legend MC Mary Kom to probe allegations of sexual harassment against the WFI chief.
Following the steps and assurances taken by the government, the country’s top wrestlers including Olympic medalists Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Ravi Dahiya and world championship medalists Vinesh Phogat and Deepak Punia ended their protest on Friday night. The wrestlers, who staged a dharna for three days in an unprecedented protest against the WFI at Jantar Mantar, have gone back to their homes and promised to keep a close watch on the developments.
One of their demands was the removal of Tomar, who was considered close to Singh and whom he had accused of taking favors from wrestlers and taking money from coaches to include names in the national camp. Can send on exhibition tours. Tomar oversaw the day-to-day running of the federation — organizing national camps and domestic tournaments.
“The Ministry has taken cognizance of the reports regarding the functioning of the WFI, including the role of Shri Vinod Tomar and has reasons to believe that his continued presence in this high-priority management and will be detrimental to the development of discipline.” .
The Sports Ministry’s response to the WFI said the protest was a “secret agenda to topple the current management of the WFI”.
The letter signed by WFI General Secretary VN Prasud said: “Under the current President, WFI, WFI has enhanced the image of wrestling at the national and international level and the Ministry’s record of For this is not possible without fair, supportive, clean and tidy work. Strict management of WFI.
On allegations of sexual harassment against the WFI president and some of his coaches, the WFI called it a conspiracy to “defame and defame” him and the coaches.
It states that not a single allegation of sexual harassment has been reported to WFI’s Sexual Harassment Committee. “Therefore the allegations to this effect are so malicious and baseless that there is no truth in the matter, except as a soft target by the media to the current management of WFI as well as the prestige of the current president of WFI. be made.” he said.
The WFI president inaugurated the classification ceremony in Gonda on Saturday and said he would address the executive committee members on Sunday to present his version of the progress at the annual general meeting.
“Yes, definitely, I will attend the AGM,” Singh said without elaborating. “I will talk to the media only after the AGM.”
Suspension of all activities of the Federation may force the cancellation of the AGM.
Tomar had confirmed before announcing his suspension that Singh would attend the AGM as he wanted to “tell the truth” to the federation officials. He (Singh) himself even demanded an inquiry into the matter and decided to take a break from daily activities on Friday evening. He is no longer involved in the day-to-day affairs of the WFI and even the certificates being issued to wrestlers here are not signed by him. But he (Singh) has every right to attend the AGM.
Punia called for an end to the protests, saying he was confident that an impartial investigation would be conducted.
The Minister has heard our voice and has constituted a committee. We are confident that an independent investigation will be conducted. The Minister has also assured that our security is the responsibility of the government as it has happened in the past that the WFI chief has threatened the wrestlers. The wrestlers were worried that since we raised our voice against it, we were scared. I am thankful to the sports minister and the government and we are ending our protest,” he said.