Wrestlers plan to make agitation pan-India post May 21 deadline; IOA’s ad-hoc body nullifies WFI’s circular to reschedule Pune Nationals – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The dwindling number of supporters at the Jantar Mantar protest site has left the agitating wrestlers a bit worried. Their protest against Wrestling Federation of India’s (WFI) sidelined president, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, entered its 17th day on Tuesday. But with not much happening on the ground, as far as the government’s support is concerned and the tardy pace of Delhi police’s investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against Singh, the wrestlers have been forced to look at alternatives beyond their cause and demand for justice.

Their frustration is justified, with reigning Asian Games and CWG champion Vinesh Phogat – at the forefront of the fight against Singh – declaring on Tuesday that they plan to transform their agitation into a pan-India movement post the May 21 deadline — when the 15-day ultimatum by khap panchayats and farmers’ unions for the government to act against WFI’s disgraced chief expires.
“We plan to make it a pan-India movement. If the government doesn’t act ahead of our May 21 deadline, we will take this protest to the next level. Trust me, it will be far bigger than what you see today,” said Vinesh, sounding off a warning to the authorities. “We also request the concerned authorities to hold the wrestling national camp for seniors anywhere in the country, except for Uttar Pradesh. We are not comfortable with the camp being organised at the SAI centre in Lucknow. We fear for our lives,” she added.


Jantar Mantar: Delhi Police gets barricades welded together to ensure crowd control at wrestlers’ protest site

The wrestlers reiterated their demands to a two-member sports ministry delegation, which met Bajrang Punia and Satyawart Kadian at the protest site in the early hours on Tuesday. On late Saturday night, a two-member delegation, including Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) director general, Sandip Pradhan, had met the wrestlers at Jantar Mantar to broker a peace deal.
However, people familiar with the situation informed TOI that the ministry or the SAI can’t alone act on wrestlers’ demands for Singh’s arrest and the disbandment of affiliated units since it’s out of their purview. “As far as Singh’s arrest is concerned, that’s for the police and judiciary to decide. Coming to the disbandment demand, all WFI’s state/district units are registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860. The WFI, too, is registered under the same act. Only the registrars under whose jurisdictions the states fall have the power to deregister affiliated units if found guilty of indulging in practices deemed against the principles of the Act. A registrar has the authority to take a call on the matter, otherwise it’ll become a very complex legal issue,” the officials informed.

Meanwhile, the Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) two-member ad-hoc committee has decided to reschedule the Under-15 and Under-20 national wrestling championships in Pune, the circular for which was issued by the WFI on May 2.
“The 2023 Under-15 and Under-20 national wrestling championships were decided to be held in Pune by the WFI. Since the affairs of the WFI are now being handled by the ad-hoc committee formed by the IOA, as such, the above said championships are being rescheduled. The fresh dates will be intimated later,” informed Bhupender Singh Bajwa, ad-hoc committee member. Bajwa is the only one making decisions at the moment as the other committee member, national rifle coach Suma Shirur, is away on national duty as part of the coaching staff for the ISSF World Cup for pistol and rifle in Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku. The World Cup will end on May 15 and only then Shirur will be available in person to attend the ad-hoc body meetings.

The protesting wrestlers didn’t train at the Karnail Stadium on Tuesday after having practised for an hour on Monday. It’s been learnt that the wrestlers had planned to carry out their training activities secretly but several media outlets assembled outside the stadium for video bytes and footage, resulting in the session being called off.

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