Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Gold medallist Abhinav Bindra on Wednesday tweeted to support the ongoing sit-in protest started by India’s top wrestlers at Jantar Mantar.
The wrestlers had resumed their protest against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the chief of the sport’s governing body who has been accused of sexually harassing female players on Sunday.
Several athletes, including Olympic bronze medal winners Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia and Commonwealth Games gold medal winner Vinesh Phogat are seeking action against the Wrestling Federation of India president.
Bindra tweeted: “As athletes, we train hard every day to represent our country on the international stage. It is deeply concerning to see our athletes finding it necessary to protest on the streets regarding the allegations of harassment in the Indian wrestling administration. My heart goes out to all those who have been affected.”
The athletes had leveled the allegations against Singh, who is also a Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Kaiserganj, first on January 18 during a protest at the same site.
According to Sakshi Malik, seven female wrestlers, including a teenager, filed a sexual harassment case against Singh at the Connaught Place police station in Delhi on Friday. She also stated that a first information report has yet to be filed.
Bajrang Punia also accused Singh of running the wrestling federation arbitrarily.
“We must ensure that this issue is handled properly, with the athletes’ concerns heard and addressed fairly and independently. This incident highlights the crucial need for a proper safeguarding mechanism that can prevent harassment and ensure justice for those affected. We must work towards creating a safe and secure environment for all athletes to thrive in,” Bindra, the first Indian individual to win the Olympic gold medal, added in his tweet.
On January 23, the sports ministry organised an oversight committee, led by boxing legend MC Mary Kom, to investigate the wrestlers’ charges.
A one-month deadline was set for the committee. However, according to PTI, the panel filed its report in the first week of April, and its conclusions have yet to be made public. Singh testified in the matter before the Indian Olympic Association and the government’s oversight committee.