New Delhi: Regarding former cricketer and BCCI president Sourav Ganguly’s statement about the wrestlers’ protest, world championships and Commonwealth Games medalist Vinesh Phogat said on Saturday said that if the cricketer wants to support them in their pursuit of justice, he can come to Jantar Mantar as an athlete and understand their issues. Wrestlers are staging a protest demanding the arrest of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and his removal from the post following allegations of sexual harassment. “If he wants to support us in our pursuit of justice, he can come to Jantar Mantar as an athlete and understand everything from us,” said Vinesh to the media.
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Former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly on Friday said wrestlers have brought a lot of accolades to the country and hoped that the matter between protesting grapplers and the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) will be resolved soon.
Students from all across delhi called for a protest in our solidarity. They were manhandled and detained by the police. The female students were threatened and harassed by police under the detention but they will continue to fight for us. #wrestlersprotest #istandwithchampions pic.twitter.com/lUPWTFP6gX— Sakshee Malik (@SakshiMalik) May 3, 2023
“Let them fight their battle. I really don’t know what’s happening there, I just read in the newspapers. I realised one thing in the sports world, that you don’t talk about things which you don’t have complete knowledge of. I hope it gets resolved. Wrestlers bring a lot of accolades to the country and hopefully, it will be resolved,” Ganguly said at an event.
Wrestlers will be taking out a candle march on 7 pm on Sunday as a part of their protest against the Wrestling Federation of India and its president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh.
Vinesh Phogat also said, “The further course of action is being discussed with our legal team. They will decide what to do next.”
Earlier, on Friday, Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said the Delhi Police was conducting an unbiased investigation against the wrestling federation chief and were working to meet the demands of the protesting grapplers.
He also urged the grapplers to allow the ongoing probe to get over.
“A demand had been put forward to form a committee and a panel was constituted. Two FIRs have also been registered by Delhi Police and Supreme Court also gave its verdict. Delhi Police is conducting a fair investigation,” said the Union Minister.
The Union Minister said that free and fair elections of the Wrestling Federation of India has been taken into consideration and that the Indian Olympic Association is working towards it.
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“They asked for a committee, which has been already constituted,” Thakur said on the sidelines of an event in Lucknow. On April 23, Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshee Mallik returned to the protest site at Jantar Mantar, claiming that six women wrestlers, and a minor, filed a sexual harassment complaint against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh at Connaught Place Police Station but Delhi Police did not register an FIR at that time. The protesting grapplers also demanded that the Sports Ministry make the findings of the Oversight Committee public.
On Wednesday, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha met the protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar. Usha, a retired Indian track and field athlete and a Rajya Sabha MP, had earlier ruffled feathers with her remarks that the wrestlers should have approached the IOA instead of hitting the streets against the WFI and its president.
“Indian Olympic Association 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 told reporters last week, a remark that didn’t go down well with the wrestlers.
Three months ago prominent wrestlers came forward to lead a protest against the WFI chief, following which the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports announced the formation of an ‘oversight committee’ to probe allegations against the WFI, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and some coaches. The protesting wrestlers have made it clear that they won’t move until they get justice and Brij Bhushan is removed as the WFI chief and put behind bars.