Wait for Delhi police probe outcome, don’t take any extreme step till then: Anurag Thakur to protesting wrestlers

New Delhi, May 31

Union sports minister Anurag Thakur on Wednesday urged the protesting top-level national wrestlers— Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia— to wait for the outcome of the ongoing Delhi police investigation into allegations of sexual assault against wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and asked them not to take any extreme step until the probe concludes.

Noting that the government also wants issues raised by the wrestlers to be probed thoroughly and action taken accordingly, Thakur said the agitating wrestlers would need to have faith in the Supreme Court, the Delhi Police, or the sports ministry.

“The wrestlers will have to trust somebody. You can look at the 75 year history of the country and you will figure out that whenever allegations of such nature are levelled against anybody, due process of law is followed. Therefore I urge the wrestlers to wait for the Delhi Police to complete its investigation and not to take any step in the interregnum which will undermine either the sportspersons who want to represent the country in l or sports,” Thakur said.

He said the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was encouraging sports in a big way and had raised the budget for the sports sector from around 800 crore annually to around 2700 crore annually.

“We want to do even more,” Anurag Thakur said today when asked what he had to say on the desperate attempt of wrestlers yesterday to immerse their medals in the Ganges in protest against inaction against Singh.

The minister said that the government had left no stone unturned to ensure the best possible training for Indian athletes and was doing a lot to ensure that Sportspersons get the best possible facilities to compete in their respective segments.

The minister also said that right from the beginning when the wrestlers raised the issue of sexual misconduct involving allegations against the wrestling Federation of India chief, the government has been listening to them. “The wrestling Federation of India president stepped aside and day today activities of the WFI are now being undertaken by the committee of administrators under the Indian Olympic Association,” Sports Minister said adding that the WFI elections would soon be held.

“When the wrestlers told us about the sexual misconduct issue, immediately a committee was formed for independent investigation when the wrestlers asked for a member to be added to the committee that was also done. The committee gave its report. As per the demands of wrestlers the WFI president stepped aside and the decisions of the federation or now being taken under the aegis of the Indian Olympic Association. Later on Delhi police registered an FIR and the Supreme Court asked the wrestlers to approach an appropriate court. So Delhi police is probing the matter. Everything was done according to the demands of wrestlers but goalposts kept changing. We also want the issue probed. I urge the wrestlers to let the Delhi police complete its investigation which is going on and after that appropriate action will be taken. Till then the wrestlers should not take any step that will undermine the sport or the sportsperson. Asian games or upcoming and several players are competing to qualify for them,” the minister said on the sidelines of the union cabinet briefing.

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