CHENNAI: After days of silence, the embattled Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is expected to present his version before the oversight committee on February 28 (Tuesday). Singh, also a Member of Parliament (MP) from the ruling party, is serving his last term as the WFI president.
It is learnt that Singh has requested the committee members including former wrestler Babita Phogat to remain present in person at the SAI headquarters for the hearing. "He requested all the members to try to attend the hearing in person as it will help him communicate properly and present his version in a better way," said a source in the know of things.
Babita, the cousin of Vinesh Phogat and sister-in-law of Bajrang Punia, was included in the committee later on at the wrestlers' request. It should be noted Vinesh and Bajrang led the protest against Singh at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi last month levelling serious allegations including sexual harassment and misappropriation of funds against him.
The committee, led by legendary boxer MC Mary Kom, was formed by the sports ministry on January 23 to investigate the charges. Singh was soon asked to step aside till the committee submits its report to the ministry. The panel also includes former wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, former shuttler Trupti Murgunde, SAI member Radhica Sreeman, and Rajesh Rajagopalan, ex-CEO, Target Olympic Podium Scheme and Babita.
Initially, the committee was directed to submit its report within four weeks. Later, as reported by this newspaper, the ministry extended the deadline by two weeks.
"The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) has extended the term of the Oversight Committee for Wrestling by two weeks for submission of the report pertaining to the complaint filed by a group of wrestlers against the Wrestling Federation of India. The extension has been granted on request from the Oversight Committee. The extension also applies to other functions assigned to the committee which includes day-to-day administration of WFI, during the course of the inquiry," said a press statement issued on February 23.
The committee had already met the wrestlers. The committee also recorded statements of others including former coaches and members of support staff. The ongoing tussle also forced the world governing body, United World Wrestling (UWW), to shift the Asian Championships scheduled in New Delhi next month to Astana, Kazakhstan on Thursday. It is learnt that the wrestlers had written to the UWW to change the venue keeping in mind the prevalent situation in the country.