WFI Sexual Harassment Case: Top Wrestlers Protest In Delhi Again

Top Indian wrestlers, who earlier this year protested against the Wrestling Federation  of India (WFI) chief and other coaches accusing them of sexually abusing female wrestlers, have filed a fresh police complaint and protested at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, have come once again to protest. 

Seven women wrestlers have filed a sexual harassment complaint against federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh at the Connaught Place police station in central Delhi. 

Wrestler Sakshi Malik said that an FIR is yet to be registered on the basis of the complaint. She said that she is disappointed that the report of a government panel on the issue has not yet been made public. 

“We want the report, in which statements of women wrestlers have been recorded, to be made public. It is a sensitive issue, one of the complainants is a minor girl,” she said. She said that the names of the complainants should not be leaked.

Another senior wrestler Bajrang Punia said, “We will not leave here until Brij Bhushan is arrested.” Vinesh Phogat said that despite repeated efforts, no response is being received from the government. He said, “Until we get justice, we will sleep and eat here. We have been trying to contact them (Sports Minister Anurag Thakur and other concerned officials) for three months. The committee members are not responding to us. Sports Ministry also did not say anything. They do not even pick up our calls. We have won medals for the country and have put our career at stake for this”

The Sports Ministry had on January 23 constituted a five-member monitoring committee headed by ace boxer MC Mary Kom and asked it to submit its report within a month. 

Its deadline was later extended for two weeks and Babita Phogat was included as the sixth member of the probe panel on the request of the protesting wrestlers.

The committee submitted its report in the first week of April, but the ministry is yet to make its findings public. However, sources have said that the wrestlers could not prove the allegations of sexual harassment against the WFI Chief during several hearings .

The wrestlers had earlier said that they do not want to take the legal route as they have faith in the Prime Minister. 

However, they also warned that if the government did not take action, they would go to the police. 

They said that he is not satisfied with the talks with the Sports Ministry mediated by Olympian Babita Phogat, who is a member of the BJP and part of the Haryana government. 

Sports Minister Anurag Thakur had also met the wrestlers on this issue and termed the allegations as ‘serious’.

Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal has issued a notice to the Delhi Police for failing to register an FIR in the sexual harassment case against women wrestlers.

The wrestlers have complained to the Commission that they have given a written complaint to the Delhi Police two days back but their FIR has not been registered yet.

DCW chief Swati Maliwal said, “The complainant has informed the commission that several women wrestlers, including a minor, have alleged that the accused person has been involved in the offense of sexual harassment against them during his tenure in the Wrestling Federation of India.”

It is claimed that the complainants have told the commission that instead of registering an FIR in the matter, some of the complainants and their family members have started receiving phone calls from an IPS officer posted in the Sports Ministry about their identity.

BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has denied the allegations. “All the allegations of sexual harassment are false and if they are found to be true, I will commit suicide,” Singh, 66, had earlier said as quoted by news agency ANI. 

The federation said that the athletes who have leveled allegations of sexual harassment against the WFI chief have a hidden agenda

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said on the allegations of sexual harassment against him that he will wait for the report of the government panel and he will not contest for the post of President in the WFI elections to be held on May 7. 

However, he indicated that he may seek a new role within the federation. He has served three consecutive four-year terms as president and is ineligible to contest for the top post as per the sports code after completing 12 years as WFI chief.

The protest was started on January 18 by triple Commonwealth Games gold medalist Vinesh Phogat, one of India’s most celebrated female wrestlers. Phogat had said that she herself had never faced such abuse, but claimed that many wrestlers were afraid to come forward because of their modesty.

Top wrestlers had said that they are not satisfied after talks with the government and they will not wrestle until their demands are met. Alleging mismanagement in the functioning of the federation, he demanded complete metamorphosis of the federation.

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