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Constitute ad-hoc panel to run WFI: Sports ministry to IOA after wrestling body’s suspension

Earlier today, the Union sports ministry suspended the newly elected governing body of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), until further orders.

Drishti Mail, New Delhi: The PT Usha-led Indian Olympic Association (IOA) must set up an ad-hoc panel to manage the day-to-day affairs at the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), the Union sports ministry said on Sunday after suspending WFI’s newly elected governing body until further orders.

“…This requires for immediate and stringent corrective measures to uphold the principles of good governance in sports organizations, and thus, now it becomes incumbent on part of the IOA to to make suitable arrangements for the interim for managing the affairs of WFI so that sportspersons of wrestling discipline do not suffer in any manner and the principle of good governance in the sports body do not get jeopardised,” Tarun Pareek, Under Secretary to the Government of India, wrote in the letter, addressed to the IOA President.

The letter further stated: “In view of the above, it is requested that an Ad-Hoc Committee may be constituted by the IOA to manage and control the affairs of WFI, as per the defined role of the NSFs (national sports federations) in the National Sports Development Code of India-2011, with immediate effect, until further orders.”

Earlier today, the Anurag Thakur-led ministry suspended the new governing body – it was elected on Thursday – as the latter ‘displayed blatant disregard for procedural norms and the constitution of the body while announcing the Under-15 and Under-20 wrestling national tournaments.’

Sanjay Singh, the new WFI chief, is considered a ‘proxy’ of his predecessor, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, a Member of Parliament (MP) from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Earlier this year, three of the country’s top grapplers – Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh Phogat – spearheaded two rounds of protests against Brij Bhushan, accusing him of sexually harassing several female grapplers, including minors, during his tenure as the federation’s chief, a charge he has repeatedly denied. In June, the Delhi Police filed a chargesheet against him; the matter on framing charges against the BJP MP is in court, and will now be heard on Jan 4 and 6.

At the WFI elections, meanwhile, Brij Bhushan-backed won majority of the posts, with Sanjay Singh defeating Anita Sheoran, a Commonwealth Games 2010 medallist who was backed by the wrestlers, 40-7 for the President’s post.

Addressing a press conference after the results, which were announced on the same day, the wrestlers expressed disappointment at Singh’s win. At the press conference, a tear-eyed Malik announced she will not play the sport until a Brij Bhushan ‘loyalist’ was in charge, while, a day later, Punia returned his Padma Shri, the country’s fourth-highest civilian honour conferred on him in 2019.

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