NEW DELHI: India’s star wrestlers coming on streets to stage a protest hasn’t gone down well with the former track and field star and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha who feels that this kind of protest amounts to gross indiscipline and tarnishing the image of the country.Wrestlers, including World Championships medal winner Vinesh Phogat, Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, have made sexual harassment allegations against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and have been sitting on an indefinite protest at Jantar Mantar.The elite athletes resumed their agitation against the WFI chief on Sunday, three months after they ended their sit-in protest following the formation of an oversight committee by the government to probe into the serious allegations.The sports ministry has not yet made public the findings of a six-member oversight panel that submitted its report on April 5.IOA chief Usha termed the protest as gross indiscipline and said that the wrestlers should have come to the IOA’s Athletes Commission.”This amounts to gross indiscipline and tarnishing the image of the country. It sets a bad precedent. Instead of hitting the streets, the wrestlers should have come to the IOA’s Athletes Commission. The commission is headed by MC Mary Kom as chairperson and Achanta Sharath Kamal as vice chairperson,” Usha told reporters after IOA’s Executive Committee meeting. .Reacting to Usha’s statement, Bajrang said that we did not expect such a harsh response from her.
Sexual harassment complaint: No FIR against WFI president yet, DCW sends notice to Delhi Police
“We did not expect such a harsh response from the IOA president as we expected support from her,” Bajrang Punia told PTI.”We believe that sports should not be affected, sportspersons should not be affected and day-to-day functioning of a federation should continue. What wrestlers have done is not good for the country. It’s not good for the image of the country. Our honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been doing so much for sports and then you have these wrestlers sitting on the streets and protesting. This sets a bad precedent,” said IOA’s joint secretary and acting CEO Kalyan Chaubey.”The IOA’s investigation into the sexual harassment issue is still going on. The seven-member committee probing the matter has got a list of witnesses. These witnesses will be invited to face the committee. Based on that, the report will be submitted to us in due course,” Chaubey added.Meanwhile, IOA has appointed a three-member ad-hoc committee to run day-to-day affairs of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and to hold elections to its new executive council within 45 days starting Thursday.The three-members are Bhupendra Singh Bajwa, Suma Shirur and a retired High Court judge, who will be named in coming days.Bajwa is the president of the Wushu Association of India and also India’s chef-de-mission for the Hangzhou Asian Games, scheduled later this year. He will be representing the IOA’s Executive Council.Shooter Suma is an Olympian, national coach and a Dronacharya awardee. She will represent the IOA’s Sportspersons of Outstanding Merit (SOM).