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Wrestlers' protest: "Wrong things being spread about us by some politicians for personal interests," says Vinesh Phogat

New Delhi: Commonwealth Games gold medalist Vinesh Phogat announced that wrestlers protesting against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Singh will come live on social media at 7 PM on Saturday after observing that "wrong things are being spread about the wrestlers in the society by some politicians for their personal interest."
Phogat took to Twitter to make the announcement.

Olympic medalists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik also tweeted the same.

Olympians Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat along with other wrestlers had been on a protest in the national capital since the beginning of this year in order to press for the arrest of the Brij Bhushan over allegations of sexual harassment.
Vinesh Phogat on Friday accused BJP leader Yogeshwar Dutt of leaking the names of the women wrestlers to Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and the media after the committee meeting.
Earlier that day, Yogeshwar posted a video on Twitter questioning the exemption that the protesting wrestlers are reportedly getting from trials. Out of six wrestlers, Vinesh Phogat was a part of that list.
She took to Twitter and posted a tweet pointing out how Yogeshwar used to suppress the voices of the female wrestlers and leaked the names of the women wrestlers to the media as well as Brij Bhushan Singh.

"When I heard the video of Yogeshwar Dutt, his ugly laugh got stuck in my mind. He was a part of both the committees made for women wrestlers. When women wrestlers were narrating their ordeals in front of the committee, he used to laugh very badly. When two female wrestlers came out to drink water, he came out and told them that nothing should happen to Brijbhushan. Go and do your practice," Vinesh wrote in her tweet.
"He told another female wrestler in a very lewd manner that all this goes on and on, don't make it such a big issue. Let me know if you need anything. After the committee meeting, Yogeshwar leaked the names of women wrestlers to Brijbhushan and the media. He also called the houses of many women wrestlers and told them to make their girls understand," Vinesh added.
Vinesh also went on to question the appointment of Yogeshwar to the Oversight committee. She also went on to accuse him of preventing wrestlers and coaches from joining the movement.
"He was already publicly giving statements against women wrestlers, yet he was kept in both the committees. He constantly prevented wrestlers and coaches from joining the movement of women wrestlers."
She ended her tweet by putting a label of 'insensitive' on Yogeshwar and claiming that the wrestling world will remember him as a person who aided Brij Bhushan.
"The wrestling world will always remember your licking the feet of Brijbhushan. Don't use so much force to break women wrestlers, they have very strong intentions. You are very insensitive person. Standing in favour of the oppressor, you are flattering him. As long as people like Yogeshwar remain in wrestling, surely the spirits of the oppressors will remain high," her tweet ended.
Dutt on Friday expressed his disappointment over reports that the Indian Olympic Association's (IOA) ad hoc committee has decided to exempt protesting wrestlers from the initial trials.
The reports claimed that six wrestlers -- Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Sangeeta Phogat, Satywart Kadian and Jitender Kinha -- have not just been exempted from appearing in the initial trials, but have also been promised that they will compete directly against the winners of the trials.
Yogeshwar took to Twitter and posted a video, questioning the criteria and parameters on which the protesting grapplers were exempted from the trials.
"I came to know from a newspaper report that the ad hoc committee of IOA has decided to give (the wrestling protesting against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh) an exemption from the trials. They will take part in a final trial. I don't know what parameters or criteria were taken into consideration by the committee to let all six wrestlers take a direct final trial," Yogeshwar said in the video.
Also questioning the wrestlers' protest, he said he had doubts if the protest had more to do with exemption from the trials than allegations of sexual harassment against the WFI chief.
The BJP leader said he had information that the wrestlers wrote to the ad hoc committee of the IOA, seeking an exemption from trials.
"Was this protest against sexual harassment or getting an exemption from trials? I also came to know the protesters wrote to the ad hoc committee seeking an exemption from trials," Yogeshwar added.
He reasoned that there are other grapplers, who have a stronger and more claim to exemption from trials, than those who have been away from the mat for more than a year.
"If you want to give such exemptions, give it to Ravi Dhaiya, an Olympic gold medallist, or Deepak Punia (secured 4th place in Olympics), Anshu Malik (World Wrestling Championships silver medallist), and Sonam Malik. Giving these six athletes an exemption from trials is beyond my understanding and this is clearly not the right thing to do. This wasn't done even by the previous federation. You took the decision without going over the rules or setting any criteria. All wrestlers should raise their voices against this. I am not saying they should protest but they raise their voices through the media, write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, IOA, and (Union Sports Minister) Anurag Thakur," Yogeshwar added.
Notably, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) elections have been postponed from July 6 to July 11, as per the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
In the election, the members of the executive committee of WFI will be decided. The occupants of the post of president, one post of senior vice-president, four posts of vice president, one each position of secretary general and treasurer, two posts of joint secretary and five posts of an executive member will be decided, as per a letter from IOA.
The last date for receiving names for the electoral collage will be June 25 by 5:00 PM. Two nominations from each State/Union Territory will be made. All state/UT wrestling federations will nominate two persons each of their respective associations, who are part of the executive body to form the electoral collage for the election to elect the WFI's executive committee, added the letter.
Preparation and display of electoral college, circulation to affiliates and publishing the same on websites of IOA/WFI will be done on June 28.
Submissions of nominations for election will be from June 29 to July 1 from 11 AM to 5 PM. The preparation and display of nominations received by returning officer will be done on July 3 by 1 PM.
The scrutiny of nomination papers will be done on July 4 by 11 AM. The submission of the notice of withdrawal of candidates will be done between July 4 to July 7, till 5 PM. On July 8, a final list of candidates will be made by 11 AM, added the letter.
Polling will be done on July 11 from 11 AM to 1:20 PM. Counting of votes will start from 1:30 PM and results will be declared on the same day.
Olympians Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat along with other wrestlers had been on a protest in the national capital since the beginning of this year in order to press for the arrest of the Brij Bhushan over allegations of sexual harassment.
Earlier on June 13, Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) elections were announced to be held on July 6 amid the ongoing protest by wrestlers against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, by the newly-appointed returning officer for WFI elections Mahesh Mittal Kumar in a statement.
The process of filing nominations was also announced to start from on June 19.
"Whereas, the undersigned has been appointed as the Returning Officer by the Indian Olympic Association vide its letter No. IOA/I-28/2023/1350 dated 12th June 2023 for the purpose of conducting the election of the Executive Committee of the Wrestling Federation of India(WFI), which is an affiliate member of the Indian Olympic Association(IOA)," the statement by the office of the returning officer read.
The Indian Olympics Association (IOA) organised a three-member ad hoc committee in April as mandated by the Sports Ministry, and two members were named to oversee WFI's day-to-day activities and pick wrestlers for international events in the interim term.
After a meeting with Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, star Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia on Wednesday said the government assured that the ongoing probe by Delhi Police against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh will be completed before June 15.
Earlier in June, former Jammu and Kashmir High Court Chief Justice Mahesh Mittal Kumar was appointed as the returning officer for the Wrestling Federation of India elections by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Joint Secretary and Acting CEO Kalyan Chaubey on Monday confirmed the appointment of Justice MM Kumar through an official letter, also authorising him (Kumar) to appoint an Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) and other staff to assist him in conducting the elections.
The elections will be critical in moulding the future of wrestling in India and deciding the federation's leadership. 

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