WFI Got a 'Demon' as Its Chief, not a 'Guardian,' Claims International Referee Jagbir Singh

Brij Bhushan examined the junior wrestlers' bodies, taught them wrestling tricks, called them to his room on the pretext to let them speak to their parents.
Brij Bhushan
Brij Bhushan

New Delhi— International referee Jagbir Singh has testified against WFI chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and claimed to be an eyewitness to several instances from 2013 to 2022 when Singh behaved immodestly with female grapplers, touching them inappropriately, hugging and grabbing them. 

Jagbir said that the WFI chief touched their buttocks, examined their bodies, called them to his rooms, and made indecent advances both verbally and physically. Jagbir Singh has been a UWW (United World Wrestling) referee since 2007. 

Brij Bhushan, who assumed the post of WFI president in 2012, is currently under scrutiny after top Indian wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Sakshi Malik, demanded his arrest for alleged sexual harassment of women grapplers.

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The referee labeled Singh a serial offender and a demon and said, "After seeing his actions on several occasions, I was very disappointed and realized that instead of a guardian, the wrestling federation has got a demon as its president. If Brij Bhushan and his family are not distanced from the federation, many families in India would distance themselves from wrestling," Jagbir is heard saying in an interview aired by Mojo Story.

Testimony given to the police on May 20

The referee said he has already given his statement to the Delhi Police. "I received a call from the Delhi police on May 19 seeking my location, and the next day the cops came to Patiala and recorded my statement," Jagbir Singh said. He claimed to have been a witness to Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s inappropriate behavior towards female grapplers on several occasions since 2013.

"I am a UWW referee since 2007, and I have been a referee before the birth of the protesting wrestlers. I also know Brij Bhushan for a long time," Jagbir told PTI.

“I couldn’t say much because until the girls register complaints, I could not do anything. But I saw the episode with my own eyes and felt bad,” he said.

"Singh got unanimously elected to the post in 2012 and went to Almaty in Kazakhstan for his first tournament, which was the Junior Asia Championship. He embraced and hugged the female grapplers who won medals. He gave them each 100-200 dollars from his pocket," Jagbir Singh told Mojo Story.

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The referee recalled that in the evening he spoke to Singh and said that even the boys had won medals and they too should be rewarded. Singh agreed and gave a cash prize to the boys too, and on returning to India, arranged for a grand welcome for the team.

"Brij Bhushan arranged almonds, cash, etc., for the wrestlers, and we thought that the WFI has got a good President, but we were wrong. His attraction for female wrestlers increased with time," Jagbir said.

Sexually abused junior wrestlers in 2013

Jagbir recalls an incident from 2013 when the team had gone to Phuket, Thailand, for the Junior Asia Championship. "The residents had arranged an Indian cuisine dinner. Brij Bhushan and his accomplices were drunk, and they misbehaved with the girls, and I was a witness to that. He spoke what should not have been spoken; he touched them inappropriately, grabbed and abused them," he said. 

He also added that whenever the president used to travel inside the country for national tournaments, two to three girls were always with him, but they could never protest. Jagbir, in fact, has corroborated the protesting wrestler’s allegations in his testimony to the Delhi Police.

All in one: physiotherapist, doctor, guardian & parent

In another interview, Jagbir said that Brij Bhushan assumed multiple roles in the team. "He became the physiotherapist, the doctor as he used to examine the body of the wrestlers, checking their breath and all. Most of the players come from poor families; they are in need of diet and a phone to call their parents back home. So Brij Bhushan would ask them to come to his room so that he would let them speak to their parents," Jagbir alleged. 

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He said on one occasion of trials for the Under-17 World Championship, Brij Bhushan wore sportswear and started teaching wrestling tricks to female grapplers. He made an indecent gesture, disobeyed protocols.

Citing an incident from March 25, 2022, Jagbir said that the team was in Lucknow for the trials of the Senior Asia Championship, and the selected performers were lining up for a group photo session with the federation members, coaches, and referees. "What I saw with my own eyes was that a female wrestler who was standing by Brij Bhushan's side mumbled loudly, jerked her hands, and walked away to another spot for the photo session. She was evidently uneasy after some action by Singh," the referee claimed.

Jagbir Singh was removed from the technical committee of the WFI in April, allegedly after he came out in support of the protesting wrestlers. When asked why a particular family and wrestlers from Haryana are only laying allegations on Brij Bhushan, Jagbir said that given the highest numbers of wrestler's hail from Haryana, it is natural that most complaints too would come from them.

More ppl would testify if investigation is fair 

 Jagbir said that the protesting wrestlers are not related to each other. "If the investigation is done honestly and fairly, more people like me would come forward to testify the truth and expose the misdoings of the WFI Chief. There are many female wrestlers from Uttar Pradesh also, but they may fear to speak as many of them are married and would not wish to attract controversy," Jagbir asserted. He said he has complete faith in the judiciary and justice would be served. He said that the Sports minister has assured that Brij Bhushan, and his family members would be kept out of the WFI elections and if this does not happen, many families would distance themselves from the sport. 

Asked about Brij Bhushan’s denial of all the allegations, Jagbir said, “Does a thief ever say I have stolen? Every culprit will make these excuses.” He, however, refused to comment on the U-turn of the minor wrestler’s father, who said he accused Brij Bhushan due to personal enmity after his daughter was discriminated against during the U-17 Asian Championship Trials.

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