Indian players resume protest against federation chief


New Delhi (Reuters) – India’s top wrestlers have resumed their sit-in protest in New Delhi demanding “immediate arrest” of their federation chief after accusing him of sexually harassing several female players.

They have also moved the country’s top court seeking registration of a first information report (FIR) against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

The wrestlers first hit the streets in January demanding action against Singh and several coaches.

Singh, who is a member of parliament from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, has denied all allegations.

The protest in January was withdrawn after the sports ministry stripped the WFI top brass of all administrative powers and asked an oversight committee to look into the allegations.

“Unless there is some action, unless he’s arrested, we are not going to end our protest,” Bajrang Punia, who won the men’s freestyle bronze in Tokyo Olympics, told reporters on Monday.

He also sought support for the wrestlers, who have been camping at the protest site since Sunday.

“This is not wrestling’s fight alone. I request all the athletes of the country, all the players, to come and join us,” said the 29-year-old.

Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik said withdrawing the protest in January was a mistake.

“The report by the oversight committee was not made public and we have reasons to believe the culprits got a clean chit,” Malik, who won the women’s 58kg freestyle bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics, said.

“Certain people misled us and convinced us to withdraw our protest in January.

“But we have learnt our lesson and this time we won’t leave until we get justice.”

The sports ministry asked the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Monday to form an ad-hoc committee to run the WFI and hold fresh election within 45 days.

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