Olympian wrestler Vinesh Phogat on Wednesday levelled serious allegations against Wrestling Federation of India President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, saying that he sexually harassed the female wrestlers.
The Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold medallist broke down in tears while speaking to the reporters as more than 30 wrestlers, including Olympic medalists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, were staging a protest, here at Jantar Mantar.
Vinesh said she was subject to mental harassment by Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, adding she had contemplated suicide.
“Adhyaksh (WFI President) and a few coaches in the national camp have sexually exploited female wrestlers,” she said. “No one takes responsibility for injuries. They talk of banning wrestlers from nationals. The WFI President called me khota sikka (useless). I wanted to commit suicide.
“I’ve openly said it today, I don’t know if I will be alive tomorrow. We have requested many times to move the camp away from Lucknow. Why does it happen only there? Because it’s easy for him to prey on the women wrestlers.”
Vinesh said she faced death threats for complaining against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
“I have been given death threats since I complained to the Prime Minister regarding harassment,” she added.
The wrestlers are demanding change in the WFI administration and appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Sports Authority of India to take action against the WFI chief.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has been in charge of the WFI for nearly a decade. The 66-year-old was elected unopposed as the WFI President for the third time in 2019 for a three-year term.
Meanwhile, Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, who won the Commonwealth Games gold medal last year, said she was at the protest site as the face of many young wrestlers who were not able to join them.
“We are here for everyone. We are just faces of so many young people around,” she said.
Earlier in the day, Tokyo Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia alleged that Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh slapped wrestlers and abused them, often.
“Our fight is not against the government or the Sports Authority of India (SAI). This is against WFI,” he had said.