NEW DELHI: Ramesh Indoliya, the president of Mallakhamb Federation of India (MFI), and the chairman of the world governing body of sport, Federation International mallakhamb (FIM), resigned on Sunday after allegations of sexual harassment were leveled against him.
The experienced sports director stopped here after a decision of the special general meeting of the MFI (SGBM). Indoliya, who hails from Rajasthan, was ousted as president after 23 of the 25 member state associations on the SGBM agreed.
All the athletes who filed the complaint belong to different cities of Rajasthan, a state where Indoliya comes from. Seven of the eight complainants are girls. TOI withholds the identities of athletes as some of them are still underage.
dr Rajkumar Sharmamember of the internal complaints committee of the MFI (ICC) about sexual harassment, TOI told: “The written complaints were filed in May June this year. All athletes have individually filed complaints about their ordeal. Most of them have talked about Indoliya touching them inappropriately and making them feel uncomfortable with his sexual advances. No FIR has been registered against him as none of the athletes investigated the matter further.”
In a letter written by Sharma (dated 7 September) to the Secretary-General Dharam Vir Singh informed Sharma of the arbitrary manner in which Indoliya dissolved the commission investigating the sexual harassment allegations, which was replaced by Indoliya’s own group of people. In his letter, Sharma named the athletes who filed the harassment complaint against Indoliya.
Mallakhamb is an indigenous discipline that the central government has identified to develop under its ambitious ‘Khelo India‘ flagship program. It will make its debut at the Gujarat 2022 National Games, the match days scheduled for October 7-11 in Ahmedabad.
In light of the 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provisions of the National Sports Code of India 2011, the MFI’s recognition as a National Sports Federation (NSF) has been revoked and its annual financial grant has been discontinued by the sports ministry. The MFI did not release the news, but earlier this month a letter to that effect dated September 2, 2022, now in the possession of TOI, was issued by the ministry.
“Investigation revealed that the establishment of MFI is still not in line with the Sporting Code, 2011. It was also noted that MFI has not taken steps to establish a sexual harassment complaints committee/committee to inquire whether the complaints have been received against the President. Therefore, it was decided to withdraw the recognition of MFI until the Constitution is amended in accordance with the NSDCI and a Sexual Harassment Commission is formed to investigate/handle the complaints of sexual harassment against the President of the Federation ,” stated the letter from Sudhir Kumar GuptaUnder-Secretary of Government of India, MYAS.
Indoliya in his defense refuted the allegations against him and stated that he was resigning from his position of his own accord. “I have been associated with mallakhamb for the past six and a half years. Nothing like that ever happened.’ When asked about the letter from the ministry mentioning the allegations of harassment, he said: “I don’t know about such a letter. Just ask the ministry. We followed the constitution according to the sporting code.”
When questioned about the dissolution of the ICC, he shot back: “People had their own agenda. We formed the committee because there were a lot of internal problems.”
The MFI’s senior vice president from Goa, Durgesh Goankar, has been appointed acting president until elections are held.