By India Today Sports Desk: The world wrestling governing body (UWW) came up with a statement on Tuesday, May 30, condemning the treatment meted out to wrestlers during their protest against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. The United World Wrestling said that the governing has taken note of the recent turn of events, expressing its disappointment over the temporary detention of the wrestlers at the protest site – the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
The UWW also threatened to suspend the Wrestling Federation of India if it does not provide information about the proposed next elective general assembly. A 45-day deadline to hold the next elective general assembly was set in January after the Sports Ministry suspended the WFI and its activities over the initial protest by the wrestlers.
Some of the biggest names in Indian wrestling, including Olympic medalists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia along with world medalist Vinesh Phogat, have been leading the protest against WFI and its former chief Brij Bhushan over allegations of sexual harassment against the top official, who is also a Member of the Parliament of the ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
UWW’s statement came hours after the top Indian wrestlers threatened to immerse their medals in river Ganga on Tuesday, 30 May, demanding quick action against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
The wrestlers reached Haridwar’s Har Ki Pauri on Tuesday to immerse their medals in the Ganga, but decided against doing so, giving the government a 5-day ultimatum to take action against the Brij Bhushan.
“The 45-day deadline that was initially set to hold this elective assembly shall be respected. Failing to do so may lead UWW to suspend the federation, thereby forcing the athletes to compete under a neutral flag. It is reminded that UWW already took a measure in this situation by reallocating the Asian Championship planned in New Delhi earlier this year,” UWW said in the statement.
UWW CONDEMNS TREATMENT OF WRESTLERS
Earlier, the wrestlers were detained at the Jantar Mantar site during their protest. The area was cleared out by the police on Sunday, 28 May. Delhi police issued a statement that the wrestlers wouldn’t be allowed to protest at Jantar Mantar.
“The events of these last days are even more worrying that the wrestlers were arrested and temporarily detained by the police for initiating a march of protest. The site where they had been protesting for more than a month has also been cleared out by the authorities,” UWW said, adding that its officials would meet the protesting wrestlers in the coming days.
“UWW firmly condemns the treatment and detention of the wrestlers. It expresses its disappointment over the lack of results of the investigations so far. UWW urges the relevant authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations.”
The athletes have accused Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexually harassing several women wrestlers, including a minor.
Rio Olympic bronze medalist Sakshi Malik, in an emotional note on Twitter, said that the medals have “no meaning” anymore. Of the medals the wrestlers planned to immerse in the Ganga, two are Olympic medals.