Temporary Wrestling Body Days After Federation Suspended Amid Protests

Bhupinder Singh Bajwa is heading the committee; MM Somaya and Manjusha Kanwar are members

Wrestlers had protested against Brij Bhushan Saran Singh (File)

New Delhi:

The Indian Olympic Association has formed a temporary committee to run the affairs of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), days after the Centre suspended its newly elected administration. The ad hoc committee will be headed by Bhupinder Singh Bajwa and the members are MM Somaya and Manjusha Kanwar.

The IOA said it was appointing the new ad hoc committee to ensure fair play, accountability and transparency.

"The Indian Olympic Association has recently become aware that the recently appointed President and officials of the WFI have made arbitrary decisions in violation of their own constitutional provisions and against the principles of good governance espoused by the IOC and further without following due process overturned the rulings of the IOA appointed ad hoc committee," read the letter from IOC chief PT Usha.

The panel headed by Sanjay Singh -- a close aide of former Wrestling Federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh -- was suspended on Sunday, amid a flurry of protests by wrestlers including Olympic medallist Sakshee Malikkh.

The wrestlers -- who had carried out a long protest against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh since last winter after several women wrestlers accused him of sexual exploitation -- went on the warpath again after Sanjay Singh's appointment, saying the ex-chief was out to control the federation by proxy.

Brij Bhushan Singh escalated the matter, insisting that his dominance in the sport body would continue. Soon after, Sakshee Malikkh, who was at the forefront of the protest against Brij Bhushan, said she was quitting the sport. Another prominent protestor, wrestler Bajrang Punia, returned his Padma Shri award.

Announcing the suspension Sunday, the sports ministry said the new panel "appears to be (in) complete control of former office bearers in complete disregard to the Sports Code". As example, the ministry cited the WFI's "hasty announcement" of U-15 and U-20 nationals "without following due procedure and not giving sufficient notice to wrestlers" for preparations.

Sanjay Singh warned that they would seek legal remedy if talks with the government were not enough to resolve the situation.