Amid the long-standing protest by ace Indian wrestlers, who have alleged that their complaints against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh have been largely ignored, the global governing body of the sport – United World Wrestling (UWW) – has released a statement on the issue. In the statement, issued on Tuesday, UWW has urged authorities to carry an impartial probe on the allegations. They have also called for election in the WFI, failing to do which may lead to the national body’s suspension.
The UWW raised concern over the detention of the protesting wrestlers recently. On Sunday, top wrestlers were detained by the Delhi Police as they attempted a protest march to the new parliament. Visuals of the champions Vinesh Phogat and her cousin Sangeeta Phogat being manhandled and pinned onto the ground by the police evoked shock and outrage across the country.
“For several months, United World Wrestling has followed with great concern the situation in India where wrestlers are protesting over allegations of abuse and harassment by the President of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). It has taken due note that the WFI President has been put aside at an early stage and is currently not in charge,” the UWW said in its statement.
UWW issues statement on Wrestling Federation of Indiahttps://t.co/TyNfSX57qW
— United World Wrestling (@wrestling) May 30, 2023
“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 made its stance clear on the issue and ‘condemned’ the action against the wrestlers.
“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 statement read further.
“As it has already done since the beginning of this situation, UWW will hold a meeting with the wrestlers to inquire about their condition and safety and reconfirm our support for a fair and just resolution of their concerns.”
The global governing body also threatened suspension. “Finally, UWW will request further information about the next elective general assembly from the IOA and the Ad-hoc Committee of the WFI. 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,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, protesting wrestlers have shelved their plans to consign their medals in Ganga at Haridwar after intervention from farmer leader Naresh Tikait. They have given a five-day deadline for action against the wrestling federation chief.
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