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Updated December 22nd, 2023 at 00:57 IST

Wrestlers' Protest: Complete timeline of the biggest controversy to rock Indian wrestling

Sanjay Singh has been elected as the new president of the WFI. Let's have a look at the major incidents related to the wrestlers' protest.

Wrestlers meet Anurag thakur
Wrestlers meet Anurag thakur - PTI | Image:PTI
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Sanjay Singh has been elected as the new president of the Wrestling Federation of India. The following is the timeline of the chain of events up till the election of the Wrestling Federation of India on Thursday.

18 January: Eminent Indian wrestlers with the likes of Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia accused the then Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexual harassment. They started protesting at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and demanded Singh's resignation. Vinesh even alleged she received threats from Brij Bhushan's close aides. But Singh refutes all the charges.

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19 January: Commonwealth Games medalist Babita Phogat met the protesting wrestlers and assured them she would talk with the government. Tokyo Olympics medalist Ravi Dahiya and Deepak Punia joined the protest. The wrestlers also had a meeting with Union Sports Minister Anurag Singh Thakur at his residence but both parties failed to reach a consensus.

20 January: The Wrestlers penned down a letter to Indian Olympic Association president PT Usha demanding Singh's resignation from the post alongside the formation of a committee to probe the allegations levelled at Brij Bhushan. They also call for a new committee to look after the WFI operations.

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21 January: Wrestlers called off their protest after a second meeting with Union Sports Minister Anurag Singh Thakur and he promised an Oversight Committee will be formed to probe the allegations. WFI submitted its response to the sports ministry denying allegations of sexual harassment. The WFI was asked by the Sports Ministry to stop their all operations.

Also Read: Brij Bhushan loyalist Sanjay Singh elected WFI President, Sakshi Malik quits wrestling in protest

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23 January:  Led by the Indian boxing legend Mary Kom, a five member Oversight Committee was formed. They were given a timeframe of four weeks to complete their fact-finding.

January 24: The protesting wrestlers alleged that they were not consulted before the Oversight committee was formed and didn't have any choice on the panel members. 

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January 31: Babita Phogat joined the committee as the sixth member.

February 31: The committee was given a two week extension.

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April 16: The WFI election was announced on May 7. The committee submitted their report to the Sports Ministry but the report wasn't made public. Singh announced he will not contest the WFI elections.

April 23: Wrestlers resume their protest at Jantar Mantar. They insisted seven wrestlers including a minor filed a complaint against Singh at CP police station but Delhi Police didn't register an FIR. They also demanded to make the report public.

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April 24:  The Sports Ministry announced the WFI election null and void and asked the IOA to find an ad-hoc committee and the committee will have to conduct fresh polls within 45 days of forming the panel. Ministry also said that the absence of an Internal Complaints Committee under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act is a major finding.

Also Read: Sakshee Malikkh quits wrestling in protest

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April 25: Wrestlers took the legal route as they approached the Supreme Court in order to register an FIR against Singh. The court asked the Delhi Police to submit its reply by Friday.

April 27: IOA formed a three member panel.

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April 28: Two FIRs filed by Delhi Police against Brij Bhushan.

May 3: An altercation broke out between police and the wrestlers and a few wrestlers got injured.

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May 5: Delhi Police recorded statements of wrestlers.

May 10: Wrestlers challenge Brij Bhushan to take NARCO test

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May 11: Police records Brij Bhushan's statement.

May 28: Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, along with other protesters, were booked for rioting and obstructing public servants in the discharge of duty, while they attempted to march towards the new Parliament, which is being inaugurated by PM.

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May 30: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United World Wrestling (UWW) condemn the police's handling and detention of the Indian wrestlers, calling it “very disturbing.”Wrestlers arrive in Haridwar to immerse medals.

June 8: Father of the minor wrestler tells PTI that they deliberately filed a false police complaint of sexual harassment against the WFI chief because they wanted to get back at him.

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June 7: Protest halted after Thakur assures them that the police investigation against Brij Bhushan would be concluded and the pending WFI elections would be conducted by June 30

June 12: IOA appoints former J&K High Court Chief Justice Mahesh Mittal Kumar as returning officer.

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June 13: WFI election scheduled for July 6.

June 15: Delhi Police files charge sheet before court.

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June 19: IOA ad-hoc panel calls five disaffiliated state wrestling units for a hearing on June 21.

June 21: The IOA ad-hoc panel reschedules WFI elections to July 11 after five disaffiliated state bodies, seeking voting rights for the polls, present their cases in a hearing.

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June 22: The IOA ad-hoc panel reduces Asian Games and World Championship selection to a one-bout competition for six protesting wrestlers.

June 23: Several coaches, and parents of wrestlers demand the withdrawal of the exemption given to six wrestlers.

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June 25: The Gauhati High Court stays WFI elections, scheduled for July 11, on a petition filed by the Assam Wrestling Association.

July 18: Delhi court grants interim bail to Brij Bhushan Singh.
*Bajrang and Vinesh get direct entries into the Asian Games.

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July 19: Young wrestlers hit Hisar streets to protest against "unfair trial exemption" for Bajrang and Vinesh
The WFI election is scheduled for August 7.

July 20: Many junior wrestlers, their parents and coaches reach IOA headquarters, demanding the withdrawal of the exemption granted to Vinesh and Bajrang.
WFI election rescheduled for August 12.

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August 11: Punjab and Haryana High Court stay WFI elections scheduled for August 12, following a petition filed by the Haryana Wrestling Association.

August 23: Wresting world governing body UWW suspends WFI for not conducting its elections on time.

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December 5: WFI elections are scheduled on December 21.

December 21: Sanjay Singh, a Brij Bhushan loyalist, elected new WFI chief with his panel comfortably winning most of the posts.

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(With PTI inputs)

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Published December 21st, 2023 at 18:43 IST

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