Anurag Thakur tried to suppress the matter: Vinesh Phogat

New Delhi: India’s ace wrestler Vinesh Phogat, who has been protesting at the Jantar Mantar here with other top grapplers against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, has alleged that Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur tried to suppress the matter by forming an oversight panel instead of taking concrete action.

During their second phase of their protest, wrestlers are demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan, who is also a BJP MP.

“We ended our protest after talking to Union Sports Minister (Anurag Thakur), and all the athletes had told him about the sexual harassment. By forming a committee, he tried to suppress the matter there; no action was taken that time,” Vinesh told reporters.

The ace wrestler also said that it is tough to stand against a powerful person who is misusing his power and position for a very long time.

“It is very difficult to stand against a person who is misusing his power and position for so long,” she said.

The Olympian further revealed that the wrestlers had met an official before they started their protest in Jantar Mantar, for the first time. But, no action was taken.

“Three-four months before we sat at Jantar Mantar, we had met an official, we had told him everything about how women athletes are sexually harassed and mentally tortured when no action was taken, then we sat on dharna,” Vinesh said.

Meanwhile, Brij Bhushan has refused to resign from the wrestling body, saying it would then mean he has accepted the allegations.

“If I resign that means I have accepted their allegations, my tenure is about to end. Till a new party is formed and the government has formed an IOA committee under that committee elections will be held and then my tenure will end,” he told the media earlier.

The wrestlers’ protest has become a huge political issue, with several opposition leaders showing solidarity with the athletes and demanding the resignation of the WFI chief.

PT Usha meets protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar

New Delhi: IOA president PT Usha met wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and other grapplers, who have been sitting on a protest demanding the arrest of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and assured them of support.

Usha had a discussion with the protesting wrestlers and left the protest site without speaking to the media. Later, Bajrang Punia told reporters that Usha has assured them that she will help them get justice.

“PT Usha met us and assured her support. She said she is first an athlete and then an administrator. She assured us that she will help us in getting justice,” Bajrang said.

Earlier, the former athlete had on April 27 said that the wrestlers should have approached the IOA instead of going out in the streets against the WFI and its president, whom the wrestlers accused of sexual harassment and mismanagement of athletes.

“Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is having a committee for sexual harassment, instead of going to the streets they (protesting wrestlers) could have come to us earlier but they did not come to IOA. It is not good for sports not only for wrestlers, they should also have some discipline,” the IOA president had said.

To which, wrestlers had expressed their disappointment at her remarks.


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