NEW DELHI : The protest by the country’s top wrestlers against wrestling federation chief Brij Bhushan Singh over sexual harassment charges entered day seven today. The wrestlers questioned the government inquiry, saying details of the probe, including the name of an underage accuser, have been leaked.
Politicians such as Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Delhi Minister Atishi have met the wrestlers to express their support as well. The Congress general secretary hit out at the Delhi Police for not providing a copy of the First Information Report, or FIR, filed against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
“When these girls get medals, everyone tweets, say they are our country’s pride but now when they are sitting on the road and seeking to be heard, saying they have been wronged, no one is ready to listen to them. If FIRs have been filed, their copy should be shared with them,” she said. “See, there are serious allegations against this person, he should first resign and be removed from the post. Till he is in that post, he will continue to exert pressure and keep destroying people’s careers. Priyanka said.
Earlier, Delhi Cabinet Minister Atishi had claimed that Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur called the protesting wrestlers as “indisciplined”, adding, “Chullu bhar paani mein doob marna chahiye uss khel mantri ko” (That Sports Minister should be ashamed of himself).”
The Delhi Police yesterday filed two cases against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief after the wrestlers complained to the Supreme Court. One of the FIRs is over a complaint of sexual harassment by a minor, filed under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which rules out bail.
The wrestlers have said they will continue their sit-in protest, demanding the “immediate arrest” of the WFI chief. “We respect the Supreme Court’s order, but we don’t have faith in the Delhi Police. This fight is not for an FIR. This fight is to punish people like him. He needs to be in jail and stripped of his portfolios,” the wrestlers said. Singh, who is also a BJP MP, welcomed the Supreme Court’s order to file the police case into allegations of sexual harassment against him.”I am totally innocent. Will cooperate with any inquiry… Their (protesters) demands are changing constantly. Resigning would mean accepting the charges. Resignation is not a big deal but not as a criminal, I am not a criminal,” Singh said at a news briefing.
The country’s top wrestlers, who are on protest against the federation chief over sexual harassment charges, on Saturday questioned the government inquiry, saying details of the probe, including the name of an underage accuser, have been leaked. “Who is leaking the details of the investigation?” the wrestlers, who have camped in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar – said. They also accused the police of misbehaving with them and not allowing mattresses and provisions meant for protesters.
Earlier, a day after the police filed two sexual harassment cases against him, including one with non-bailable charges, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the influential chief of India’s wrestling body, said he will not step down The Delhi Police on Friday registered two First Information Reports (FIRs) in connection with sexual harassment allegations levelled by women wrestlers against the Wrestling Federation of India chief. The first FIR involving allegations made by a minor has been registered under the tough Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which means if Mr Singh is arrested, he cannot get bail.The FIRs were filed hours after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Delhi Police, told the Supreme Court that a case will be registered on Friday.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the wrestlers, submitted an affidavit in a sealed cover which voiced apprehension about the safety of a minor girl, an alleged victim of sexual assault.”Bearing in mind the content which has been placed on record, we direct the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, to make an assessment of the threat perception and provide adequate security to the minor girl involved,” the court said in its order.
The top court is hearing an appeal filed by seven women wrestlers, who have alleged that the police did not file cases despite sexual harassment allegations against Mr Singh.The top wrestlers, who have been on a sit-in at Jantar Mantar in Delhi since Sunday demanding action against Mr Singh, welcomed “the first step tow Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met wrestlers protesting against the sports federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over alleged sexual harassment and asked people to support the country’s top athletes in their protest. The wrestlers have not called off their week-long protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar; they want Singh, who is also a BJP MP, to be arrested.
“The athletes have made India proud on the international stage. But for a week they have been forced to protest at Jantar Mantar. Why? Because a big politician allegedly did wrong things to women and our sisters who have made the country proud,” Mr Kejriwal, standing amidst the wrestlers at Jantar Mantar, told reporters.
“Every citizen who loves this country stands with the wrestlers,” Mr Kejriwal said, adding the central government should help the wrestlers in their fight against the BJP MP. “All these women players who have brought laurels to the country are our daughters; they must get justice. No matter how powerful the accused is, he should be given the harshest punishment,” Mr Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.
The wrestlers’ protest has also been seen as turning political with several opposition leaders and others from Haryana – most of the wrestlers’ home state – turning up to show support at Jantar Mantar. Apart from Mr Kejriwal, they include the Congress’s Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, farmer leader Rakesh Tikait, former Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, khap panchayat leaders, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, among others.
Sports Minister Anurag Thakur had formed the committee to look into the allegations against the WFI and its chief. The committee, which was told to give a report to the Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry, had given it on April 5. But the ministry has not yet made public the findings of the six-member committee.
(Bureau Report with Media Inputs).