World Championships medal-winning wrestler Vinesh Phogat on Sunday accused an unnamed member of the Wrestling Oversight Committee of “leaking contents” of the complaints made by the nation’s top wrestlers against the Wrestling Federation of India’s chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and the WFI. She urged the government to remove the member, whom she did not name. She did however identify the person as a ‘sportsperson member’ of the committee.
“Being a sportsperson it is extremely disheartening to see a fellow sportsperson of the Oversight Committee has behaved so recklessly. Their attitude towards women is evident from such behaviour,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter.
— Vinesh Phogat (@Phogat_Vinesh) February 26, 2023
She added that the member has been “acting against the interest of women from Day One” and said she was sure that Sharan Singh was “finding support” from the member.
“The lack of empathy and insensitivity displayed by this sportsperson was shocking during the proceedings of the committee,” she further said.
While requesting that action be taken against the member, she went to add: “All this has placed great mistrust towards the committee proceedings. I’m feeling let down at not just weak but also strategic attempts of this committee member towards what should have been a fair and just investigation.”
— Sakshee Malikkh (@SakshiMalik) February 26, 2023
The six-member oversight committee is chaired by Olympic bronze medal-winning boxer Mary Kom. London Olympics bronze-medal winning wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and wrestler Babita Phogat, who is Bajrang’s sister-in-law and a cousin of Vinesh, are also in the Oversight Committee. Former badminton player Trupti Murgunde is the last former athlete to be part of the committee. The other two members are Radhica Sreeman, former executive director (teams) of the Sports Authority of India and Rajesh Rajagopalan, the former-CEO of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme.
India’s top wrestlers like Bajrang Punia, Vinesh, Sakshi Malik and Sarita Mor had gone on a dharna in January to protest against WFI and Sharan Singh, who they accused of sexually harassing women wrestlers.
It is shameful how a sportsperson member of the Oversight Committee has been allegedly leaking contents of the complaint of sexual harassment. I request that strict action should be taken against the member and they should be immediately from the committee@ianuragthakur https://t.co/0R9PZgNeRb
— sarita mor 🇮🇳 (@saritamor3) February 26, 2023
In response, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports had set up a five-member Oversight Committee to look into the allegations. Upon the wrestlers’ insistence, Babita was added as the sixth member of the committee. The committee was recently given a two-week extension to come up with the report.