Babita Phogat added to Oversight Committee to probe allegations against WFI

Agreeing to the demand made by protesting wrestlers, former wrestler Babita Phogat was added to the panel of the Oversight Committee formed by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to undertake the day-to-day administration of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

The committee will also probe the sexual harassment charges against WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh as well as financial irregularities and administrative lapses of the WFI, as leveled by prominent sportspersons.

Phogat is the 6th member of the committee headed by Olympic medallist-boxer Mary Kom which includes Olympic medallist-wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, former badminton player and Mission Olympic Cell member Trupti Murgunde, former CEO of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme Rajesh Rajagopalan, and former Sports Authority of India executive director (teams) Radhica Sreeman.

On January 26, Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia had insisted that the protesting wrestlers, who have made sexual harassment charges against Singh, want a nominee of their choice in the probe panel set by Sports Ministry.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Bajrang had said, “The women wrestlers who have faced sexual harassment are willing to talk to the Oversight Committee only if the person we suggest is added to the committee. This is a sensitive issue and they need to be confident that a fair probe will be conducted.”

During the meeting with the sports minister Anurag Thakur late last Friday, the names of members of the committee were not agreed upon and the wrestlers were told to take ‘two to three days’ to discuss among themselves and suggest their nominee.

“There was a discussion (with the sports minister on Friday) and after that, we told the sports minister to give us time. We said we would talk among ourselves because we can’t immediately decide who we want on the committee. We respect everyone named on the committee, they are also sportspersons and we are not finding fault with them. But this is an issue related to girls and a very sensitive issue. We need someone who we can trust fully in the Oversight Committee,” Bajrang had said.

The protest by the wrestlers, including Rio Olympics bronze medalist Sakshi Malik and two-time World Championship bronze medalist Vinesh Phogat at Jantar Mantar in Delhi had been called off after the wrestlers held a five-hour meeting with Thakur, who had promised them that the allegations would be investigated.

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