Indian wrestlers meet sports minister over abuse scandal in federation

New Delhi, Jun 7 (EFE).- A number of Indian wrestlers on Wednesday met sports minister Anurag Thakur over the alleged systematic sexual abuse in the Wrestling Federation of India – including allegations against its president – days after meeting home minister Amit Shah.

Bajrang Punia, a Tokyo 2020 bronze medalist, and Sakshi Mallik, who also won a bronze in Rio, headed to the minister’s residence as Indian broadcasters showed them arriving at the house in Delhi, hours after Thakur invited the athletes for dialog on behalf of the government.

“The Government is willing to have a discussion with the wrestlers about their problems. Once again I have invited the wrestlers for the same,” Thakur tweeted.

This is the second meeting that the wrestlers have held with the officials within a week after many of them met home minister Amit Shah over the weekend at his residence.

However, they insisted that they had been unable to reach any agreement with the the government, adding that they had been asked to keep the discussion secret.

In January, many of India’s top wrestlers publicly denounced years of alleged sexual abuse within the WFI and directly accused its president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of abusing athletes and refusing to act against other abusers.

However, Singh has continued to claim innocence and called the allegations a political conspiracy, while refusing to resign from office. EFE

As the authorities failed to act, the sportspersons intensified their campaign in April with a sit-in protests in New Delhi that lasted nearly a month, until the police cleared the site with force.

Indian farmers’ groups, representing the country’s largest workforce, offered their support to the wrestlers and threatened to lay seige to the capital from Jun. 9 if the government did not initiate a dialog and fire the WFI president.

However, the protest has been postponed after the recent meetings between the protesting wrestlers and government representatives.

Last week, Thakur had already announced that an internal committee was being formed to probe the wrestlers’ allegations, and sought time for the investigation to be concluded. EFE


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