Women wrestlers molested by national coaches, allege India’s world wrestling champions

Vinesh Phogat, the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold in both Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, and other top Indian women wrestlers on Wednesday raised sexual abuse allegations against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and its president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh.

Singh has been at the helm of the WFI since 2011. He was elected President of WFI for the third consecutive time in February 2019. Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the BJP leader too, is currently serving as the member of parliament from Kaiserganj.

Vinesh Phogat said that “national coaches molested female wrestlers over the years and were given death threats by WFI officials.”

Phogat, the veteran athlete, has represented India at the Olympics too.

“We were threatened that our careers will come to an end if we speak. Federation members used profanities against female wrestlers. We have approached the Prime Minister as well,” she added.

“I know at least 10-12 women wrestlers who have told me about the sexual exploitation they faced at the hands of (the) WFI President. They told me their stories. I can’t take their names now but I can definitely reveal the names if we get to meet the Prime Minister and the Home Minister of the country,” the veteran athlete said addressing the media after staging a four-hour dharna at Jantar Mantar.

She also said that she had received death threats at the behest of WFI President from officials close to him because she dared to draw Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attention to several issues plaguing Indian wrestling when she met him after the Tokyo Games.

She and other top Indian wrestlers sat a massive protest at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Olympics medallists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, world championship medallist Sarita Mor, Sangeeta Phogat, Satyawart Malik, Jitender Kinha and CWG medallist Sumit Malik were among 30 wrestlers who assembled at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday.

“We will not compete in any international competition until WFI President is removed”, Bajrang Punia, Olympic bronze medallist wrestler, said.