New Delhi [India], January 23 (ANI): The Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports announced on Monday that the oversight committee formed to probe into the sexual harassment allegations levelled against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and its chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh will consist of five members, led by Olympic medalist Mary Kom.
The oversight committee will also administer and manage the day-to-day affairs of the wrestling body "as a purely interim measure".
A letter from the Union Sports Ministry noted that wrestlers had made allegations of sexual harassment against the president, officials and coaches of the federation and the Ministry took a serious look into the matter and asked the federation for a reply within 72 hours on January 18. Following that, the WFI submitted its response to the ministry via a letter on January 20.
Also, the Ministry received information from prominent athletes, "which prima facie warrants certain action(s), and the Ministry is of the considered view that the Wrestling Federation of India has not discharged its duties with respect to redressal of players' grievances and conduct of the business of the Federation in a professional manner.""Therefore, considering the unprecedented situation which calls for immediate measures to ameliorate the grievances of sportspersons, and to promote good governance in the WFI, the Ministry, in consonance with provisions of the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011 "Sports Code" and in compliance with the principles of the International Olympic Committee policy on safeguarding athletes from harassment and abuse in sports and the principles of Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Act 2013, hereby instructs the Executive Committee of the WFI to abstain with immediate effect, as an interim measure, from administering and managing the day-to-day activities of the Federation, until further orders and hereby appoints an Oversight Committee as a purely interim measure," read the letter by the Ministry.
The composition for the Oversight Committee was announced to be as follows"-MC Mary Kom, boxer and Olympic medalist and chairperson of the Athletes Commission of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA)-Yogeshwar Dutt, wrestler and Olympic medalist, a member of the Executive Council of IOA.
-Dhyanchand awardee and former badminton player Trupti Murgunde.
-Sports Authority of India (SAI) member Radhica Sreeman- ex-CEO Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) Cdr Rajesh Rajagopalan (Retd)The following will be terms of reference for the Oversight Committee:i. To enquire into the allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and/or intimidation, financial irregularities and administrative lapses, levelled by prominent sportspersons;ii. To undertake day-to-day administration of the Wrestling Federation of India.
iii. The Oversight Committee will complete the enquiry at the earliest, by four weeks.
Earlier, speaking to reporters in Kolkata on Sunday, Anurag Thakur said that the Centre has heard all the players pertaining to allegations levelled against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and added all the activities of the tournament were stopped immediately pending an inquiry by the probe committee.
"Assistant Secretary WFI was sacked and an oversight committee will begin an impartial probe so that everything gets clear," Anurag Thakur said.
Meanwhile, the Wrestling Federation of India's (WFI) Annual General Body Meeting (AGM), which was supposed to start at 10 am on Sunday in Ayodhya, was called off amid the ongoing battle between the wrestlers and its governing body in the country.
Following the wrestlers' protest, this meeting was seen as being of utmost importance.
The development comes after the central government on Saturday evening suspended WFI Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar. Along with this, the activities of WFI were immediately banned till the completion of the investigation into the allegations of the wrestlers.
After late-night parleys with the protesting star grapplers, Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Friday night announced that Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh will 'step aside' from the day-to-day affairs of the WFI till the 'oversight committee' led by Olympian MC Mary Kom completes its inquiry into the allegations against him.
The probe committee has been given a mandate of four weeks to submit its report, the minister added.
The wrestlers, who were protesting at Jantar Mantar, called off their protest after a meeting with Union Sports Minister Thakur on Friday.
However, WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh refuted the allegations and claimed he would expose the 'political conspiracy' in a press conference in Uttar Pradesh's Gonda.
Singh had earlier denied all allegations against him and said that the protesting wrestlers should have approached the Federation earlier.
Singh also claimed that 97 per cent of wrestlers were with the WFI and those who were taking part in the protests were pressured to do so. He also vehemently denied any incident of sexual harassment. "There has been no incident of sexual harassment. If such a thing has happened, then I will hang myself," the WFI president said while addressing a press conference in the national capital on Wednesday. (ANI)