Vinesh, who is spearheading the campaign for Singh’s removal as the WFI chief over charges of sexual harrasment, also alleged that several complaints of sexual abuse and mistreatment of boys wrestlers were reported to the federation’s higher-ups but no action was taken on them.
“I got a call from a female wrestler. I won’t reveal details or her identity here. I have a 30-minute recording of her detailing the extent of harassment she faced. A number of boys too called in to share details of the mental harassment faced by them. They told how they have slipped into depression because of the treatment meted out to them. This complaint is against a vice president of the WFI. Complaints have been raised to the federation several times but it did nothing. I don’t want to share much here as the president himself might try to silence these complainants. He says he has not received any complaints but the WFI has received these complaints and the evidence of that is coming in,” Vinesh told a media gathering at Jantar Mantar here on Friday evening.
During the day, Vinesh, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Ravi Dahiya, Deepak Punia, Sangeeta Phogat and Satyawart Kadian, who are central figures to this agitation, were largely missing from the protest site, with rumours doing the rounds that they had gone to meet union Home minister Amit Shah at his residence. Later, it was told by their supporters that they would be meeting sports minister Anurag Thakur for the second round of talks at his official residence at 2pm. The meeting was finally scheduled for 6pm and the wrestlers left in four cars from Jantar Mantar with a couple of their supporters too joining in for the meeting.
The first round of talks on Thursday late evening, which had started at 10pm at Thakur’s residence and lasted for more than four hours till 2:15am, remained inconclusive as the wrestlers weren’t happy with mere assurances from the government and demanded immediate sacking of Singh and dissolution of WFI and its affiliated state units.
Vinesh, speaking at the protest site before leaving for Round 2 of the meeting, further dared Singh to come and face the agitating wrestlers eye-to-eye, instead of “hiding” in his stronghold town of Gonda in UP. “He won’t leave his post but can run away. But we will make him leave. Everyone loves sitting on a throne which gives him power and the freedom to do whatever he wants. But when you are asked to stand, your feet will be hurt,” she said.
Bajrang, too, added: “His office is only 500 metres from where we are sitting. Why did he have to run away to Gonda? I think he can run away from the country as well.”
Vinesh carried on with her tirade against Singh. “This is not just about wrestling, this is about girls and their safety now. We cannot disclose their names as it will be dangerous for them and their families. It is a big thing to come out in the public and then face consequences.”
She said that if the issue wasn’t resolved by Friday, the grapplers will come to the protest site with their wrestling mats and start practising here only from 10am on Saturday.
“If we are not satisfied with the outcome (meeting with Thakur), then you will see us training on the wrestling mats here. We will start at 10 am. Kal se khusti yahi par shru,” she signed off.