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WFI harassment panel got ‘0 complaints in 2 yrs’. Coaches question Sakshi Malik’s role as member

Wrestler Sakshi Malik, who led protests at Jantar Mantar with Vinesh Phogat & Bajrang Punia last week, is the only woman on panel. Coaches ask why she didn't speak up or take action.

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New Delhi: The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has a five-member commission with wrestler Sakshi Malik as one of its members to look into sexual harassment complaints for the last two years, but has received no complaints of harassment, ThePrint has learnt. 

“In order to ensure ethical practices and fair play in sports including elimination of doping practices, match fixing, fraud of age and sexual harassment of women in sports, the WFI has established an Ethics Commission,” reads the tab ‘Sexual Harassment Committee’ in the federation’s website. 

While WFI secretary general N. Prasood is the chairman of the committee and joint secretary Jai Prakash the convener, the remaining three members are Vishal Singh, Debendra Kumar Sahoo, and Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik. Sahoo and Singh are WFI executive members.

“All I can say is that we never received any complaints. I have no other information to give you,” Prasood told ThePrint. He also refused to comment whether the committee has ever met or is the first of its kind.

Jai Prakash, the convener of the committee, also refused to comment. 

Sources at WFI confirmed the panel was formed two years ago but couldn’t confirm if this was the first such committee of this nature. 

Wrestler Sakshi Malik, the only female member of the panel, had last week led a protest at Jantar Mantar along with compatriots Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia. The wrestlers had not only levelled serious allegations of sexual harassment against WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, but had also claimed that some of his ‘favourite coaches’ exploit female wrestlers at camps. 

Lack of female members in the sexual harassment committee and awareness of the existence of such a committee were some of the reasons cited by the wrestling community for not approaching them for redressal. 

A national coach questioned why Sakshi didn’t initiate any action as a member of the committee  if she was privy to such information. 

Sakshi did not respond to ThePrint’s queries despite repeated requests on calls and WhatsApp. This report will be updated when a response is received.

The WFI, meanwhile, stands solidly behind its chief Brij Bhushan, rejecting all allegations including that of sexual harassment.

Coaches, WFI officials miffed with Sakshi?

Like the above mentioned coach, a WFI official too sought to know why wrestlers needed to protest at Jantar Mantar when one of the leaders of the protests was a committee member. “If they did have such grave allegations against the WFI president, why didn’t they inform the committee, of which (Sakshi) Malik is a member?” the official said. 

A coach, who formerly worked in Delhi’s Chhatrasal stadium, asserted that star wrestlers had defamed all coaches through their protest at Jantar Mantar. “If we are so cruel, why are there absolutely no complaints at the committee? Why did Sakshi not speak up as a committee member?”  

But, women wrestlers said lodging complaints are not easy when the majority of the members are men. “In our society we don’t speak of such things so comfortably. Four out of five members of the committee are men. We don’t feel comfortable talking about such issues in front of them,” a Commonwealth medal winning wrestler told ThePrint. 

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: ‘Truth needs to come out’ — wrestlers’ protest against WFI chief triggers a political storm


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