Wrestlers' Protest Ends: Battle Against WFI Chief to Shift to Courts

Nation's top wrestlers end their protest against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and will be waiting for the court's order.
wrestlers at protest site.
wrestlers at protest site.File Photo

New Delhi: The wrestlers have ended their protest more than six months after they originally staged a dharna in front of Delhi's Jantar Mantar, alleging that the disgraced Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh sexually abused female grapplers.

In a statement circulated on social media, Sakshi Malik, one of the protesting wrestlers announced that they would continue their fight against Singh but through legal proceedings rather than on the streets. They expressed their intention to wait for the government to fulfill its promises before participating in the upcoming elections for the WFI's new president and executive committee scheduled for July 11.

The statement released on Sunday, June 25, by the protesting wrestlers emphasized their determination to seek justice through the court system: "In order to carry out the promises the government made to the protesting wrestlers at the meeting on June 7 regarding the sexual harassment of female wrestlers, the Delhi Police completed an investigation based on FIRs submitted by six female wrestlers and filed a chargesheet on June 15. Until justice is served to us, our fight will now take place in court rather than on the streets."

Regarding the ongoing election process for the reorganization of the Wrestling Federation of India, the statement highlighted the wrestlers' cautious approach: "The election is scheduled for July 11; we will wait and see if the government fulfills its promises in this regard."

Singh has been charged with offenses under sections 354 (assault or criminal force to a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), and 354D (stalking) of the Indian Penal Code. However, the POCSO charges against Singh were dropped after a second statement from the young wrestler was recorded. Vinod Tomar, the WFI assistant secretary who has been suspended, has also been charged with criminal intimidation under sections 506 and 109.

Seek extra time to prepare for Asian Games

Prior to announcing the conclusion of their protests, wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Satyawart Kadian, Sangeeta Phogat, and Jitender Kumar, the six wrestlers who took part in the protest, wrote a letter to Anurag Thakur, the sports minister, on Sunday. They requested additional time to prepare for the Asian Games and the World Wrestling Championships and urged Thakur to schedule the proceedings after August 10, 2023.

Former Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, when asked about the ongoing matter of alleged sexual harassment in court, refrained from commenting, stating, "Since the court is now deliberating on this, I don't want to comment. The court is handling the case," in an interview with ANI.

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