PT Usha, former track and field athlete and president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), has not been pleased with India’s star wrestling stars coming out to protest. She feels this type of protest is gross indiscipline that tarnishes the image of India.
Wrestlers including World Championships medalist Vinesh Phogat, Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia, and Sakshi Mallik have made allegations of sexual harassment against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Singh, and are currently sitting in an indefinite demonstration at Jantar Mantar.On Sunday, the elite athletes resumed agitation towards the WFI chief three months after ending their sit-in. This was in response to the formation by the government of an oversight committee that would investigate the serious allegations.
The findings of the six-member panel of experts that presented its report to the sports ministry on April 5 have not been made public yet.
Usha, the IOA chief, called the protest gross indiscipline. He said the wrestlers had been better off going to the IOA Athletes Commission.
This is a gross act of indiscipline that tarnishes the image and reputation of our country. This sets a negative precedent. The wrestlers would have been better off contacting the IOA Athletes Commission instead of going to the streets. Usha, after the IOA Executive Committee meeting, told reporters that the commission is led by MC Mary Kom and Achanta Sharad Kamal. .
Bajrang responded to Usha’s remarks by saying that she did not deserve such a harsh reaction.
“She is a woman and an athlete.” “We did not expect such a harsh reaction, but we were expecting support,” said a baffled Bajrang to PTI.
If IOA believes that wrestlers who demand justice are tarnishing the country’s image, then what happened when she broke down to explain her plight following harassment by some goons in her academy? Bajrang asked, “What had happened?”
The top wrestler referred to Usha’s tears during a February press conference this year, when she talked about harassment in her academy in Balussery in Kerala.
“We do not believe sports, athletes or the day-to-day running of a federation can be affected. The actions of the wrestlers are not in the best interest of our country. What wrestlers have done is not good for the country’s image.
These wrestlers are protesting in the street because our honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi is doing so much to promote sports. Kalyan Chaubey, IOA’s acting CEO and joint secretary, said that this sets a dangerous precedent.
The IOA is still investigating the issue of sexual harassment. The seven-member investigation committee has a list with witnesses. The committee will invite these witnesses to appear before it. The report will then be sent to us at the appropriate time,” Chaubey said.
IOA appointed a three member ad hoc committee for the Wrestling Federation of India to oversee its day-to-day operations and hold elections for its new executive council in 45 days, starting on Thursday.
The three members are Bhupendra Bajwa and Suma Shirur, as well as a retired judge from the High Court, whose name will be announced in a few days.
Bajwa is also the chef de mission for India at the Hangzhou Asian Games scheduled to take place later this year. He will represent the IOA Executive Council.
Shooter Suma has been an Olympian and national coach. She is also a Dronacharya Awardee. She will be representing the IOA Sportspersons of Outstanding Merit.
The Supreme Court will be hearing the case on Friday. The Delhi Police told the Supreme Court that they needed to conduct a preliminary investigation before filing an FIR.