The United World Wrestling (UWW) strongly condemns the detention of India’s top wrestlers during their protest in Jantar Mantar. They have also threatened to suspend the national federation WFI if it fails to hold its election within the specified time.
UWW has been closely monitoring the situation in India, where wrestlers are protesting against the outgoing Wrestling Federation of India president, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, for alleged sexual harassment. In a statement, UWW expressed concern over the allegations, stating, “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.”
During the protest, which aimed to hold a women’s ‘Mahapanchayat’ near the new Parliament building, police were seen dragging Olympic and world championships medallists, including Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and Sangeeta Phogat. The wrestlers demand the arrest of Brij Bhushan for the alleged sexual harassment of several women wrestlers, including a minor.
UWW strongly condemns the treatment and detention of the wrestlers, expressing disappointment over the lack of progress in the investigations. The organization urges relevant authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations. UWW also plans to meet with the wrestlers to inquire about their well-being and reiterate its support for a fair resolution to their concerns.
The Sports Ministry had instructed the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to form an ad-hoc committee responsible for conducting the elections for the Executive Committee of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) within 45 days. However, with only 12 days remaining until the deadline, UWW warns that failure to hold the polls on time may result in a ban on the national federation. The organization emphasizes the importance of respecting the set deadline and requests further information from the IOA and the WFI Ad-hoc Committee.
In the past, UWW had already taken action by reallocating the Asian Championship, originally planned in New Delhi earlier this year. The potential suspension of the federation could force athletes to compete under a neutral flag.