The Sports Ministry on Saturday sacked Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) assistant secretary Vinod Tomar, following allegations of sexual harassment and corruption against the sports body’s chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. It decided to suspend Tumar “with immediate effect” to ensure proper functioning of WFI. The ministry said it has ordered the WFI to suspend “all ongoing activities with immediate effect”, including the ranking tournament in Sharan Fort, Gonda, UP.
This comes a day after Sports Minister Anurag Thakur announced the formation of an oversight committee to probe allegations against Sharan and his body by some of the country’s top wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Ravi Dahiya.
About Tomar, the ministry said in a letter, which is in PTI’s possession, that his presence would be “harmful to the development of this high-priority discipline”.
“The Ministry has noted the reports on the functioning of the WFI, including the role of Shri Vinod Tomar, and has reason to believe that his continued presence will be detrimental to the development of this high-priority discipline,” the Ministry said. Said in the letter.
Aggrieved wrestlers alleged that Tomar took bribes from athletes and was involved in financial corruption, helping him build a fortune worth crores.
According to sources, the ministry will announce the names of its supervisory committee members on Sunday.
In a press release, the ministry said it “on Saturday informed the Wrestling Federation of India that in view of the government’s decision to appoint an Oversight Committee to investigate various complaints raised by athletes against the Federation, the WFI will suspend all ongoing activities with immediate effect, unless the Oversight Committee is formally appointed.” and without taking over the day-to-day functions of WFI.”
It added, “In view of the directive to suspend all activities with immediate effect, the Sports Ministry has asked the WFI to cancel the ongoing ranking tournament in Gonda, UP.” In this regard, the Ministry has asked the WFI to refund the entry fee charged to the participants for the ongoing event.
The Ministry’s Supervisory Committee will have the power to take all decisions related to Indian wrestling and will also oversee the day-to-day affairs of the federation.
Earlier in the day, the WFI rejected all allegations against its president, including allegations of sexual harassment, and claimed that the wrestlers’ protest was motivated by “a hidden agenda to oust the current management”.
The WFI, in response to the government’s notice, denied all the allegations and insisted that there was “no scope for arbitrariness and mismanagement” in the federation.
The ministry sought an explanation from the WFI after the country’s top wrestlers sat on dharna and accused the federation chief of sexually harassing women wrestlers and treating them like “dictators”.
Before the wrestlers agreed to end their protest, the Indian Olympic Association on Friday set up its own seven-member committee headed by MC Mary Kom to probe the allegations against Sharan.
The IOA panel was formed even as the wrestlers’ sit-in protest entered its third day.
Apart from legendary boxer Mary Kom and wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, the panel includes archer Dola Banerjee and Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) president and IOA treasurer Sahdev Yadav.
The IOA committee has two advocates — Talish Roy and Shlok Chandra — besides former shuttler and IOA joint secretary Alkananda Ashok, who is its vice chairperson.
The decision was taken at an emergency executive council meeting of the IOA, which was attended by Olympic champion shooter Abhinav Bindra, Olympic bronze medalist Yogeshwar, IOA president PT Usha and joint secretary Kalyan Chaubey.
Featured video of the day
“The federation’s first reaction is denial”: Journalists in the #MeToo protests
Topics covered in this article