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Vinesh Phogat slams Sports Ministry, Delhi Police for being ignorant

Olympian Vinesh Phogat slammed Delhi Police for delaying the investigation against WFI Chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Vinesh Phogat slams Sports Ministry, Delhi Police for being ignorant

Vinesh Phogat (File Photo)


Pritish Raj

Updated: 2 May 2023 6:15 PM GMT

Jantar Mantar, New Delhi: Protesting wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and Sakshi Malik slammed Delhi Police for being ignorant and alleged that complaints related to sexual harassment have been hushed up in the past by the WFI and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur did the same by forming an oversight panel instead of taking concrete action here on Tuesday.

World Championship medalist Vinesh Phogat said," I wanted to point out the attitude of the Delhi Police. They registered the complaint after 6 days and haven’t yet recorded the statements of the girls. They aren’t even informing us as to when our statements will be recorded. Delhi police are trying their best to stall the matter and break us mentally and physically. They are trying their best to discourage us, especially girls, by whatever means they can, be it power, position, or money. The Delhi police is not performing its duties and we are dependent on the apex court for justice.”

She also alleged that twice in the past sexual harassment cases were reported during the national camp but the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) succeeded in sweeping the matter under the carpet.

The World Championship medallist said the complainants had shared their ordeal in a meeting with the sports minister but he did not do anything except for constituting an oversight panel.

The wrestlers had called off their protest in January after getting assurances from the government that the matter would be probed, and a five-member panel was formed to look into the allegations of sexual harassment against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

"During the 2012 national camp, a sexual harassment complaint was lodged at a police station. Within 24 hours that case was hushed up. In 2014 a physio, who was also the trainer of Geeta Phogat, raised a similar matter and he was removed from the camp within 24 hours. From that day, his wife could not participate in any competition", Vinesh said.

"Before we started our protest, three months back, we had explained everything to a government official about how sexual harassment was taking place and how women wrestlers were being tortured mentally. When we met the sports minister, the women wrestlers shared individual incidents related to sexual harassment. The girls were crying before him but no action was taken at that time. "Sports minister tried to hush up matter yet again by forming a committee. We have tried to raise this issue at every level but the matter was always suppressed," said Vinesh.

Anguished by ignorance of IOA

The wrestlers expressed their anguish and sadness over the silence of the Athletics Commission chief MC Mary Kom and the ignorance of IOA Chief PT Usha.

"It is a long battle but the words and actions of the likes of PT Usha and Mary Kom have hurt us. We have grown up watching the likes of PT Usha, Sachin Tendulkar, and Mary Kom," said Sakshi Malik.

Last week, IOA Chief PT Usha criticized the wrestlers for tarnishing the image of the country by sitting on the protest. Criticizing PT Usha, Bajrang said,' Usha must realize she got her IOA post because of her sports achievements, but she has become a thorough politician now,” he said.

Silence came from fear

Sakshi Malik claimed that the wrestlers never spoke about anything cause they feared their careers.

"We had to play sport. Our career, life was at stake and that's why we could not muster enough courage. Now we have reached a stage in our careers where we could speak. It's not easy to stand against a powerful man," she said.

Sakshi Malik said the motive behind the protest, as projected, was not to seek exemptions from trials. She claimed she was asked to appear in a trial abroad when she had already won a trial in India. Another girl, in 2022, was asked to reappear in a trial within 24 hours of winning. "She was vomiting during the retrial bouts. I had told her that we do not have the status to fight with these men," added Vinesh.

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