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Wrestlers Claim Committee Demanded Video, Audio Proof In Harassment Allegations Against WFI Chief

They revealed issues such as the demand for video or audio proof, the presence of intimidating figures during hearings, and the denial of their request for women members of the committee to be present during their statements.

Wrestlers protest at Jantar Mantar
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Several wrestlers who testified to the official Oversight Committee investigating allegations of sexual harassment against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and BJP MP, have raised issues with the committee's proceedings. According to The Indian Express, the wrestlers revealed their concerns, requesting anonymity. They stated that they were asked to provide video or audio proof of their harassment, and one wrestler claimed that a committee member dismissed Singh's behavior as "inappropriate touching" misconstrued due to his role as a father figure.

The wrestlers also expressed unease over the presence of WFI staff members and a coach linked to Singh, which they found intimidating during the hearings held at the Sports Authority of India building.The victims' request for only women members of the Oversight Committee to be present during their statements was denied. Earlier this month, two wrestlers filed complaints with the Delhi Police, accusing Singh of multiple incidents of sexual harassment, including unwarranted touching and lifting jerseys during training sessions.

They also alleged instances when the committee switched off the video recording. The committee, led by former boxing World Champion Mary Kom, was established by the Union Sports Ministry following initial protests in January. While the committee's report has not been made public, the Sports Ministry shared some "major findings" after a preliminary review last month, addressing structural shortcomings within the WFI, such as the absence of a mandated Internal Complaints Committee.

However, it remained silent on the sexual harassment allegations against Singh. The wrestlers expressed a lack of confidence in the Oversight Committee, citing discomfort during individual hearings and feeling rushed while providing statements. Committee members reportedly emphasized the need for evidence and expressed skepticism without video or audio proof.

Apart from Mary Kom, the committee consisted of former sports ministry officials, wrestlers Yogeshwar Dutt and Babita Phogat, and other sports personalities. None, except Radhica Sreeman, former SAI Executive Director (Teams Wing), were available for comment.

Sreeman denied the wrestlers' claim that the video recording was sometimes switched off, stating that all proceedings were meticulously recorded and transcribed. However, wrestlers alleged that the committee member's physical absence during a Zoom hearing undermined the sensitivity of the issue.

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