Wrestlers Resume Protest Against WFI ChiefApr 24, 2023 | Pratirodh Bureau
As top wrestlers resumed their protest on Sunday over the issue of sexual harassment allegations against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the Delhi Police said it has received seven complaints from them and was conducting an inquiry, even as it was issued a notice by the Delhi Commission For Women for failing to register an FIR in the matter.
Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and other wrestlers returned to the protest site at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, demanding that the government make public the findings of the oversight panel that investigated the allegations against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief.
The wrestlers, including Sakshi Malik and Ravi Dahiya, had in January raised the issue, but ended their three-day long sit-in after marathon talks with Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur.
Thakur had announced the five-member oversight committee, headed by legendary boxer M C Mary Kom, to look into the allegations.
The Delhi Commission For Women (DCW) on Sunday said it has received a complaint from the women wrestlers alleging that they had given a written complaint to the city police two days back, but no FIR had been registered till now.
The complainant informed the Commission that several women wrestlers, including a minor, had alleged that Singh sexually harassed them during his tenure at the WFI.
She also said that a complaint was filed at the Connaught Place police station on April 21.
She claimed that no action has been taken by the Station House Officer (SHO), Connaught Place police station on the complaint. She also said that when she called the SHO to enquire about the status of the complaint on April 22, she was informed by him that no FIR had been filed and that action shall be taken on the complaint post Monday.
The complainant also alleged that when she asked him for assurance that the FIR shall be filed by Monday, he answered that he could not guarantee it, according to the DCW.
A senior police officer said they have received seven complaints so far. He said some of the complaints pertain to Delhi and some are from outside the city.
“We are conducting an inquiry. No FIR has been registered yet,” he said.
The Delhi Commission For Women (DCW) also noted that they have been informed that some of the complainants and their family members had started getting phone calls from an IPS officer posted in the Department of Sports, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS), enquiring about the identities of the complainants.
Meanwhile, the panel has issued notice to the Delhi Police in the matter and sought an action taken report by April 25. The Commission has sought a copy of the FIR and asked the police to explain the reasons for delay in registration of FIR.
“The wrestlers who are agitating have won medals for the country in Olympics and CWG. They have hoisted the tricolour abroad. Today, when they are protesting, even their food and water is being stopped. Are their demands wrong?” tweeted DCW chief Swati Maliwal in Hindi.
The panel also sought details of security provided to the complainants along with details of the persons who allegedly shared the information regarding the matter with officials from the Department of Sports.
“How long is it going to take for the (government) committee to submit its report? It has already been three months and we are still waiting to hear from them. Will the report come out after the girls, who have filed complaints, die?” questioned world championship medallist Vinesh Phogat.
“We are tired of asking the government to release the findings… We have nothing to do with the (WFI) election process. We are more concerned about our careers. The (Paris) Olympics are upon us and we want to begin preparations in right earnest,” she added.
Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik said, “We will not budge from Jantar Mantar” adding that “this fight will not stop”.
Expressing solidarity with the protesters, Sharad Pawar’s NCP said Union ministers Anurag Thakur and Smriti Irani should step in to address the concerns raised by the top wrestlers.
“(Youth Affairs And Sports Minister) Anurag Thakur and Smriti Irani must intervene immediately and ask the Delhi Police, which works under the Union home ministry, to take immediate action. If they cannot do this for people who have won laurels for our country, then what can common citizens expect?” NCP spokesperson Clyde Crasto asked.