Indian Olympic medalist, Sakshi Malik addressed a press conference yesterday in Delhi after the appointment of the new Chairman of the Wreslers Federation of India was announced. Earlier this year, numerous prominent male and female wrestlers staged a prolonged protest at Jantar Mantar, alleging sexual harassment by Brij Bhushan, who was the WFI chief at that time. Sanjay Singh, who has been appointed as the new Chief is a close aide to the former chief and a right-hand man. The elections for the post were held on Thursday and Sanjay Singh secured the position of WFI president, with 13 out of 15 panelists voting in favour of him.
Six adult female wrestlers have accused Brij Bhushan of sexual harassment, citing instances of inappropriate touching, such as running hands over breasts and touching the navel, as well as intimidation and stalking. The women came forward after years of ongoing harassment and abuse by the man. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court, and Delhi police were compelled to register FIRs against Brij Bhushan. The charges against him include the alleged solicitation of “sexual favours” in exchange for professional assistance.
In January this year, Olympic medalists Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia, world championship medallists Vinesh Phogat, Sarita Mor, etc staged a silent sit-down protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. They protested against Brij Bhushan and demanded strict action against the accused. But contrary to what they hoped the government would do, the man was let go spotless and without an honest investigation.
Again in April, the group of wrestlers decided to march in a protest walk to the newly inaugurated Parliament and were manhandled and detained by the police. The lack of seriousness and action against sexual offenders still looms on the government. The wrestlers demanded a new election which would ensure that such incidents are not repeated in the future.
Yesterday, with the appointment of Brij Bhushan’s aide and close mate Sanjay Singh as the new chief of WFI, the wrestlers have lost all hope and have decided to call it quits. Sakshi Malik addressed the press conference and openly spoke about the unfair election and the safety of women in the sport. Sobbing and crying, the sportswoman put her shoes on the table signifying her quitting the sport because of the latest developments.