NEW DELHI: Ramesh Indoliya, the president of Mallakhamb Federation of India (MFI), and the president of the sport’s world governing body, Federation International Mallakhamb (FIM), resigned from his post on Sunday after charges of sexual harassment were levelled against him.
The veteran sports administrator quit following a decision by the MFI’s special general body meeting (SGBM) here. Indoliya, who hails from Rajasthan, was removed as president after 23 out of 25 state member associations consented for the same at the SGBM.
All athletes who have filed the complaint belong to different cities of Rajasthan, a state Indoliya hails from. Seven of the eight complainants are girls. TOI is withholding the identities of athletes since some of them are still minor.
Dr Rajkumar Sharma, a member of the MFI’s Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) on sexual harassment, told TOI: “The written complaints were filed in May June this year. All the athletes have filed complaints individually narrating their ordeal. Most of them have talked about Indoliya touching them inappropriately and making them feel uncomfortable with his sexual overtures. No FIR has been registered against him as none of the athletes pursued the matter further.”
In a letter written by Sharma (dated September 7) to the secretary general Dharam Vir Singh, Sharma informed about Indoliya’s arbitrary way of disbanding the committee probing the sexual harassment allegations, which was replaced by Indoliya’s own set of people. In his letter, Sharma has named the athletes who have filed the harassment complaint against Indoliya.
Mallakhamb is an indigenous discipline which the central government has identified to develop under its ambitious ‘Khelo India‘ flagship programme. It will make its debut at the National Games Gujarat 2022, its competition days scheduled for October 7-11 in Ahmedabad.
In the light of the harassment charges against Indoliya and the federation’s failure to comply with the provisions of the national sports code of India 2011, the MFI’s recognition as a national sports federation (NSF) has been withdrawn and its annual financial grant stopped by the sports ministry. The MFI didn’t let the news come out in public, but a letter to this effect, dated September 2, 2022, now in possession of TOI, was issued by the ministry earlier this month.
“Upon examination, it was found that the constitution of MFI is still not in line with the sports code, 2011. It was also noted that MFI has not taken any steps to form a complaint committee/sexual harassment committee to enquire or to dispose the complaints received against the president. Therefore, it has been decided to withdraw the recognition of MFI until its constitution is amended in line with NSDCI and sexual harassment committee is formed to enquire/dispose of the complaints of sexual harassment against the president of the federation,” stated the letter by Sudhir Kumar Gupta, under-secretary to the GOI, MYAS.
Indoliya, in his defence, refuted the allegations against him and informed that he resigned from his position on his own accord. “I have been associated with mallakhamb for the last six-and-a-half years. Nothing of that sort ever happened.” When asked about the ministry’s letter which mentioned about the harassment charges, he stated: “I don’t know about any such letter. You better ask the ministry. We have been following the constitution as per the sports code.”
On being questioned about disbanding of the ICC, he shot back: “People had their own agenda. We formed the committee because a lot of internal issues were there.”
MFI’s senior vice-president from Goa, Durgesh Goankar, has been named the officiating president till the time the elections are held.