Wrestlers’ #MeToo protest against federation, Centre seeks explanation
Indian wrestlers’ big protest against the Wrestling Foundation of India (WFI) has entered the second day at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. Triple Commonwealth Games gold medalist Vinesh Phogat went public with her accusations of sexual harrassment of athletes, which quickly prompted the Centre to ask for a response from the federation “within 72 hours”.
Nearly 200 athletes including Olympic medalists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia have demanded strict action. Punia said that the accused Mr. Singh managed the federation in a high-handed manner.
Top Indian wrestlers spent Wednesday night at a temple in Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi. Some senior SAI (Sports Authority of India) officials also met them and assured action.
According to NDTV.com, Ms Phogat revealed that she never faced harassment herself but knows many female wrestlers who have been exploited but can’t come forward with their experiences. Babita Phogat, Vinesh Phogat’s cousin and a part of the BJP government in Haryana, has come forward to support the wrestlers at the protest site.
Brij Bhushan Charan Singh, also a BJP MP, has denied the allegations. "All the sexual harassment allegations are false, and I will commit suicide if they are found to be true. I tried to get in touch with the wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, but was unable to do so," the 66-year-old was quoted saying.
The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has sent a formal notice to the sports ministry and also asked the city police to register a case. DCW chief Swati Maliwal met the protesters at Jantar Mantar.