Anurag Thakur Meets Wrestlers, Says #MeToo Allegations Serious: 10 Facts

The wrestlers are on protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.

New Delhi:
Wrestlers protesting in Delhi over sexual harassment allegations against the federation chief and coaches on Thursday said they weren’t satisfied after talks with the government on Thursday and “won’t wrestle another day” till their demands are met.

Here are the 10 latest developments in this story:

  1. “We have not got a satisfactory response; only assurances, no concrete action. We will not quit till the federation chief is removed, and he goes to jail. We have 5-6 girls with proof. If the government does not act, we will go to the police,” Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik said.

  2. At a news conference before wrapping up the second day of their sit-in at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar with around 200 others, the three wrestlers – among India’s most decorated wrestlers – said, “We did not want to take the legal route because we had faith in the Prime Minister.”

  3. The announcement came following their talks at the Sports Ministry brokered by Olympian Babita Phogat, a member of the BJP and part of the Haryana government. “I’m a wrestler first. The BJP government is with the wrestlers. I have heard instances of abuse in my career as well. There is no smoke without fire,” Babita Phogat said.

  4. The country’s sports ministry on Wednesday had asked the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to respond to the allegations within 72 hours after Vinesh Phogat, a triple Commonwealth Games gold medallist, went public with the charges. Meanwhile, sports minister Anurag Thakur is meeting the wrestlers at his residence.

  5. WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is a BJP MP, has refuted the charges. “All the sexual harassment allegations are false, and I will commit suicide if they are found to be true,” the 66-year-old was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

  6. Vinesh Phogat, 28, made the allegations against Mr Singh and trainers at a public protest in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, backed by several other top wrestlers. “Women wrestlers have been sexually harassed at national camps by coaches and also the WFI president. I know at least 10-20 girls in the national camp who have come and told me their stories,” she said, tearing up.

  7. Ms Phogat said she never faced such exploitation herself, but claimed many wrestlers were intimidated from coming forward because of their humble origins. “They are scared because of their family background. They can’t fight them because they are powerful. Wrestling is our only livelihood, and they are not letting us do it. Our only option is to die. So might as well do good before dying,” she added.

  8. The Delhi Commission for Women, a local body that looks after women’s issues, has issued notice to the sports ministry and asked the city police to file a case. The organisation’s chief Swati Maliwal met the protesting wrestlers at the Jantar Mantar.

  9. The allegations come months after the coach of the country’s national cycling team was sacked following sexual harassment charges.

  10. India’s #MeToo movement gathered momentum in 2018 after a Bollywood actress accused a senior actor of sexual harassment. Soon after, women from other backgrounds came forward with multiple allegations, including against a former government minister, but activists say there has been little fundamental change.

(With inputs from agencies)

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