Mary Kom-led Oversight Committee to run WFI

Published on Jan 23, 2023 10:49 PM IST

Announcing the names of the committee members in Jabalpur, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said the committee has been given one month's time to complete its probe.

Olympic medalist boxer Mary Kom during the 4th edition of Ekal Run, in Kolkata(PTI)
Olympic medalist boxer Mary Kom during the 4th edition of Ekal Run, in Kolkata(PTI)
ByAvishek Roy, New Delhi

Boxing legend MC Mary Kom will head a five-member Oversight Committee that will run the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and also probe into the allegations of 'sexual misconduct, financial irregularities and misgovernance' levelled by India's top wrestlers, including Olympic and World Championships medallists, against the federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, other officials and some coaches at the national camp.

The other members of the committee are London Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, former badminton player Trupti Murgunde, a member of SAI's Mission Olympic cell, and former SAI administrators Radhica Sreeman, and Cdr Rajesh Rajagopalan.

Announcing the names of the committee members in Jabalpur, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said the committee has been given one month's time to complete its probe and till that time WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh will stay away from the day-to-day functioning of the wrestling body.

"The committee will look into the serious allegations levelled against WFI. It will listen to both sides and complete its probe in one month and submit a report. Till the probe is completed, the Committee will also be in charge of the functioning of the WFI," Thakur said.

This will be the second committee that will investigate the grave allegations levelled by India's top wrestlers against their own federation and its chief. The Indian Olympic Association has also named a seven-member internal committee to probe into the charges of sexual harassment against Singh. Mary Kom, who is a chairperson of IOA's Athletes Commission, will head that panel as well and Dutt too is part of it.

Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Ravi Dahiya along with world championship-medallists Vinesh Phogat and Deepak Punia led an unprecedented three-day protest at the Jantar Mantar, demanding the immediate resignation of Singh and dissolution of the WFI. The wrestlers called off their protest on Saturday after getting assurances from sports minister Thakur that there will be a thorough investigation.

After suspending all activities of WFI on Saturday, the Sports Ministry instructed the WFI executive committee on Monday to abstain with immediate effect -- as an interim measure -- from administering and managing the day-to-day activities of the federation until further orders.

Calling it an "unprecedented situation which calls for immediate measures", the Sports Ministry in its notification said action was initiated against WFI under the National Sports Development Code and in compliance with the guidelines of International Olympic Commitee's policy on safeguarding athletes from harassment and abuse in sports and the principles of Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the workplace Act, 2013.

Taking a serious view of the entire situation as the matter pertains to the "well-being of the athletes", the Ministry directed the WFI to explain and furnish a reply to the allegations within 72 hours.

The WFI in its reply to the Ministry had dismissed all the charges of wrestlers, calling it a conspiracy to “malign and defame” Singh and the coaches. “No adverse action is called for against the federation in terms of the provisions of the National Sports Development Code of India,” it said in its eight-page reply.

The Ministry, however, on Monday said it was of the "considered view the WFI has not discharged its duties with respect to redressal of players' grievances and conduct of the business of the federation in a professional manner." Meanwhile, Singh scotched speculation that he was taking a legal route.

Not moving court: Singh

"No petition has been submitted by me or any authorized person associated with me against the Delhi government, the protesting wrestlers and the news channels. I have not authorised any advocate, law agency or representative to present the petition in any court of law," tweeted the BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh.

The Oversight Committee is expected to take charge of the WFI on Tuesday. As a first step, it will also look to clear the Indian team for the Zagreb Open Ranking series in Croatia from February 1. All the top wrestlers from Bajrang, Ravi Dahiya, Vinesh, Deepak Punia -- who were part of the protests -- are part of the team. However, it has been learned that the team will get a green signal only after clearance from the Oversight Committe

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