Wrestling mess: 14 meetings held, but complainants did not appear before panel, says Sports Minister Anurag Thakur

Leh (Ladakh), April 27 (IANS) Union Sports Minister Anurag Singh Thakur on Thursday rejected the claims of inaction by the government in the affairs of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) made by wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
The Minister said the government got the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to set up an Oversight Committee and is now taking action based on major findings in the report submitted by it, by requesting the IOA to set an Ad-hoc Committee and conduct free and fair elections within 45 days. He said as per another finding of the report, an internal committee will be constituted after the elections and it will look into all complaints of sexual and mental harassment.
The Minister was responding to claims by the protesting wrestlers, led by Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, and Asian and Commonwealth Games medallist Vinesh Phogat, that the government is shielding the deposed president of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh against allegations of sexual harassment.
Thakur said he had personally met the wrestlers during their first protest and after a 12-hour-long discussion, the government asked IOA to set up an Oversight Committee. “On their demand, we included Babita Phogat in the Oversight Committee. In all 14 meetings of the Oversight Committee were held but neither the wrestler that complained of sexual harassment nor others whose names were listed as victims by the protesters, turned up before the Committee,” said the Minister at a media interaction in the Union Territory of Ladakh, as per a video posted on the social media.
Thakur said the Ministry has taken cognizance of the major findings in the Oversight Committee’s report and as per that has asked the IOA to set up an ad-hoc committee to conduct impartial elections in 45 days.
The Minister said they have gone by the major findings of the Oversight Committee and accused the wrestlers of indulging in politics.
The IOA on Thursday set up an Ad-hoc Committee comprising Bhupender Singh Bajwa and shooter Suma Shirur to manage the affairs of WFI. A third member, a retired High Court judge, will be named before the election process is initiated.

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