2010 Commonwealth Games gold-medal-winning wrestler Anita Sheoran, a witness in a sexual harassment case against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the outgoing head of the Wrestling Federation of India, has filed her candidature in elections to replace him.
According to the Indian Express, Sheoran is the only female candidate vying to take over the post of president from Singh, who was charged with sexual harassment and stalking by the Delhi police in June.
The 38-year-old former wrestler will be up against candidates like Olympian Jai Prakash, the president of the Delhi wrestling association, and Sanjay Singh Bhola of Uttar Pradesh. Bhola is considered a close aide of Singh. Jammu and Kashmir senior Senior Superintendent of Police Dushyant Sharma is also one of the nominees.
Sheoran has the support of the protesting wrestlers, who were also assured by the government that nobody from Singh’s family will be allowed to contest for any position within the Indian wrestling federation.
Sheoran faces stiff competition in the August 12 elections, with votes cast by state wrestling federation chiefs, many of whom are reported to back candidates loyal to Singh.
According to a PTI report on Tuesday, Darshan Lal from the Chandigarh wrestling body filed his nomination for the post of general secretary. SP Deswal from Uttarakhand, also considered a part of Singh’s camp, filed his nomination for the post of treasurer.
Wrestlers including world champion medallist Vinesh Phogat and Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik had held a weeks-long demonstration in New Delhi demanding Singh’s arrest.
Images of star athletes being detained as they tried to march to parliament in May went viral on social media. They paused protests after the government said it would investigate the sexual harassment claims and announced new elections for the federation.
Indian sports administration has long been male-dominated, but in December, former track and field star P.T. Usha was named the first woman president of the Indian Olympic Association, ushering in hopes of a more inclusive era.
With inputs from AFP