“Conspiracy”: Wrestling Body Chief As Athletes Want Him Sacked Over #MeToo

Wrestling body chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, facing #MeToo allegations, on Friday said the charges against him are a part of “political conspiracy”.

“This is a political conspiracy against me. There is an attempt to malign women wrestlers and the sport,” he said, adding he will address a press conference at 12 noon and expose those behind these claims.

Celebrated Indian wrestlers, including Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik besides Vinesh Phogat and others are staging a sit-in protest for the last two days at Jantar Mantar against the WFI president, accusing him of sexual exploitation and intimidation and have demanded that the federation be disbanded.

Late last night, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur met the protesting wrestlers in a meeting that lasted four hours but failed to make a headway. The minister has urged the protesters to wait as the ministry has sought a response from the federation.

The wrestlers are not ready to settle at anything less than resignation of the WFI president.

Earlier on Wednesday, the centre had made it clear that if the WFI does not respond in the next three days, the sports ministry “will proceed to initiate action against the federation in terms of the provisions of the National Sports Development Code, 2011.”

“Unfortunately we did not get a satisfactory response. Yesterday, we had 1-2 victims amongst us but now we have 5-6 wrestlers, who were harassed (sexually). We can’t name them now, after all they are daughters and sisters of somebody. But if we are forced to disclose their identity, it will be a black day,” said Vinesh, a two-time World Championship medallist, on Thursday afternoon while speaking to the media.

Olympian wrestler Bajrang Punia said: “Five to six women wrestlers are here with us who have faced these atrocities and we have evidence to prove it.”

Former wrestler and Haryana BJP leader Babita Phogat reached the protest site yesterday to meet the wrestlers as a mediator from the government and assured the grapplers that their demands will be met. “I have assured them that the government is with them. I will try that their issues are resolved today,” Babita said.

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