The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Thursday constituted a two-member Ad-hoc Committee comprising Bhupender Singh Bajwa, IOA Executive Council Member, and former Asian and Commonwealth Games medallist shooter Suma Shirur to run the office of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).
The two-member committee will take over the charge of managing the WFI office with immediate effect and will also oversee the elections to set up a new Management Committee as per an order issued by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The Ministry has mandated the Ad-hoc Committee with conducting the elections for WFI Management Committee within 45 days.
"In the days leading up to WFI's election, the IOA will also appoint a retired High Court Judge to the Ad-Hoc Committee for a fair and transparent election. The WFI Ad-Hoc committee will be responsible to manage the affairs of the federation including selection and participation of sportspersons in international events," the IOA informed in a release on Thursday.
The decision on the Ad-hoc Committee was taken at an emergency meeting of the IOA's Executive Council, which was chaired by IOA President PT Usha here on Thursday.
On the occasion, Usha also expressed her disappointment over the protesting wrestlers' attempt to give a political colou0r to the entire issue.
"Those protesting are renowned wrestlers who brought laurels to the country. They have an equal responsibility of safeguarding the interest of our sports, sportspersons and also the image of our country. However, I'm disappointed the way they are sitting on dharna, asking political parties to join them etc," Usha, India's legendary sprint queen, was quoted as saying in the release.
"IOA had constituted a committee chaired by renowned female athlete Ms. Mary Kom, in January 2023 on receipt of the complaint. The committee held various hearings of the complainant players as well as the opponent person/s. It is unfortunate to see that instead of approaching this committee or IOA, the wrestlers choose to publicly protest," said Usha on Thursday.
A group of wrestlers led by Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik and including Asian and CWG medallist Vinesh Phogat are currently protesting at Jantar Manter in New Delhi against lack of action on their allegations of sexual harassment by the deposed President of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and some coaches.
The Oversight Committee set up by IOA on request by the Sports Ministry had submitted its report and made some suggestions. According to the protesting wrestlers, the report is silent on the allegations of sexual harassment of female wrestlers.