Wrestlers’ protest: FIR against Brij Bhushan; Players demand arrest

Upon SC’s direction, Delhi Police set to file FIR against WFI chief Brij Bhushan; Wrestlers say they don’t trust Delhi Police

NEW DELHI | Updated: 28 April, 2023 5:38 pm IST
Wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik (TNI photo by Sumit Kumar)

Delhi Police has finally decided to lodge a First Information Report (FIR) against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Brij Bhushan Saran Singh based on the allegations of sexual harassment levelled by seven female wrestlers.

The development happened amidst a hearing of the plea filed by the three international wrestlers – Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia – demanding action against Singh in the Supreme Court on Monday. The Supreme Court had directed Delhi to submit its response by April 28.

On Friday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that the Delhi Police would file an FIR and start the probe.

Kapil Sibal, who is representing the wrestlers, raised an issue of safety pertaining to the complainant wrestlers. The court then directed the Delhi Police to not only register an FIR but also provide security to the complainant minor wrestler and conduct a security assessment of the other six wrestlers as well.

The next hearing on the case is scheduled for April 17, when the Delhi Police will have to report on the status of the investigations.

The protesting wrestlers, however, categorically said that their protest will continue as they still want action against Singh.

Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik said, “We wanted action against Brij Bhushan. We are thankful to the apex court for ordering an FIR. But we don’t have faith in the Delhi Police. Let the FIR be registered and Bhushan be arrested, then only we will think about calling off our protest.”

Vinesh Phogat, the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games, said, “We demand Brij Bhushan be removed from all his posts. He should be sent behind bars. Investigations will not be fair till he is holding the posts.”

After their protest in January, the government formed an oversight committee to probe their allegations, but the report has yet to be made public.

Hours before the SC hearing, India’s celebrated Olympian Neeraj Chopra had come out in support of wrestlers, expressing concerns over “what’s happening”.

Chopra, the reigning world champion in javelin throw, said that he was “hurt” to see ace wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia “on the streets demanding justice”.

“They have worked hard to represent our great nation and make us proud. As a nation, we are responsible for safeguarding the integrity and dignity of every individual, athlete or not,” tweeted the young athlete, who is also the reigning Olympic champion in the event.

“What’s happening should never happen. This is a sensitive issue that must be dealt with in an impartial and transparent manner. Pertaining authorities must take quick action in order to ensure that justice is served,” he had said.

The tweet appeared to have opened the doors, as many celebrity sports stars – including cricketers Kapil Dev, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, tennis legend Sania Mirza, hockey star Rani Rampal – too came out in support of the protesting wrestlers.

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