Wrestlers suspend protest till Jun 15 after meeting Thakur; WFI elections to be held by Jun 30

New Delhi: Government agrees not to allow outgoing WFI president Brij Bhushan Singh, who has completed three terms as president

BY | Wednesday, 7 June, 2023

The protesting wrestlers on Wednesday agreed to suspend their agitation till June 15 after the government assured them of filing a chargesheet against outgoing WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh by then and holding the elections to the sports body by end of the month.

Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik met Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, who invited them for a meeting to break the deadlock, three days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah met them and discussed their demands.

After the meeting, which lasted over five hours, Malik and Punia told reporters that they have also been assured that the FIRs lodged against them will be withdrawn.

The protesting wrestlers and many of their supporters were booked for violation of law and order on May 28 when they marched towards the new Parliament building without permission.

“We were told that the police investigation (in the case against Singh) will be complete by June 15. Till then, we have been asked to wait and suspend the protest,” Malik said.

However, both Malik and Punia asserted that their agitation is not over and they have suspended their protest only till June 15 as requested by the government.

The marathon meeting between wrestlers and Thakur comes amidst the government’s efforts to reach out to the top wrestlers, who have been protesting since April 23 and demanding the arrest of Singh.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Thakur said the meeting was held in a “good atmosphere and in a positive manner” and that the government has accepted the demands of the protesting group.

“In the meeting, it was suggested by the wrestlers that the chargesheet in the case be filed by June 15, the WFI elections be held by June 30 and an Internal Complaints Committee of WFI be formed that should be headed by a woman,” Thakur said, adding all these proposals were agreed to unanimously.

In another key decision, the government also agreed not to allow outgoing WFI president Brij Bhushan Singh, who has completed three terms as president, and his associates to contest elections as per their demand.

Singh, who first became WFI president in 2012, is already not eligible to contest the elections as per the Sports Code.

Till the election of WFI, two women coaches will be added to the IOA ad-hoc committee that is running the affairs of the WFI to look into the technical aspects, he said, adding that players will be consulted in running the federation after the elections.

“The wrestlers have also demanded that those players, academies, coaches or akharas against whom there are cases should be withdrawn,” he said.

Thakur also said the wrestlers agreed to discontinue their protest and they will also convey the same to their supporters.

Asked how many demands the government has accepted, Thakur said: “All these suggestions were agreed by consensus. The government has discussed these issues with an open mind.”

Apart from Punia and Malik, two-time Olympian Vinesh Phogat is at the forefront of the agitation that first began in January this year. However, Phogat skipped the meeting with Thakur.

Punia, Malik and Phogat had even threatened to immerse their medals into the holy river Ganga in Haridwar if Singh is not put behind bars but did not carry out the threat after the intervention of farmer leaders.

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