Wrestlers Protest | Vinesh’s big allegation on Anurag Thakur, said- Sports Minister tried to suppress the matter by forming a committee

ANI Photo New Delhi. Star wrestler Vinesh Phogat on Tuesday alleged that the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) suppressed sexual harassment complaints in the past and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur did the same by setting up monitoring panels instead of taking concrete action. Vinesh, who has been the biggest face of the wrestlers’ protest, claimed that sexual harassment cases had come to the fore twice earlier during the national camp but the WFI was successful in hushing up these cases. Vinesh, a world championship medallist, said the complainants had shared their ordeal with the Sports Minister in a meeting but he did nothing except setting up a monitoring panel. The wrestlers had withdrawn their protest in January after the government assured them of an inquiry into the matter and a five-member panel set up to probe the sexual harassment allegations against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. Vinesh said, “During the 2012 national camp, a complaint of sexual harassment was lodged at a police station. That case was axed within 24 hours. In 2014 a physio, who was also Geeta Phogat’s trainer, raised a similar issue and was dropped from the camp within 24 hours. From that day his wife could not participate in any competition. “Before starting our protest, we had explained everything to a government official about three months back, how sexual harassment was happening and how women wrestlers were being mentally tortured. The players were being pushed into a situation where they could do whatever they wanted with their lives.” Vinesh said, “We waited for three-four months but when nothing happened, we came to Jantar Mantar. When we met the Sports Minister, women wrestlers shared different incidents of sexual harassment. The girls were crying in front of him but no action was taken at that time.” He said, “The sports minister again tried to hush up the matter by forming a committee. We tried to raise the issue at all levels but the matter was always hushed up.” The Asian Games gold medalist said now people can understand why she remained silent for 12 years. Also read He said, “We had to play the game. Our career, life was at stake and hence we could not gather enough courage. Now we have reached a point in our career where we can speak up. It is not easy to stand against a powerful person.” Sakshi Malik said that the motive behind the protest was not to seek exemption from trial as being shown. She claimed that she was asked to appear for trials abroad even though she had already won trials in India. In 2012, another girl was asked to be available again for the trial within 24 hours of winning. Vinesh also alleged that the Delhi Police is not doing its job properly. He said, “The Delhi Police has not recorded any statement so far. They are using strength and position to help break down the victims. Delhi Police is trying to delay the case. They are giving information to Brijbhushan. Perhaps we will get justice from the Supreme Court only.” “The kind of language he (WFI chief) is using on national television gives an indication of how he can behave with women behind closed doors,” Vinesh said. (agency)

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