While Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh remains defiant, the wrestlers, in the police FIR, have shared their ordeal of years of sexual harassment and how some were treated indifferently “for not supporting him”.
The two FIRs were filed at Connaught Place police station by the Delhi Police, after the intervention of the Supreme Court on April 28.
Mr. Singh has been booked under IPC sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), 354D (stalking) and 34 (common intention). He has also been booked under the Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Along with him, WFI secretary Vinod Tomar has also been named in the police FIR.
For the minor girl, who has played at various championships and is currently 17 years old, her father filed the police complaint. The girl had been wrestling since 2016.
Her father said when she won a gold medal at a championship that took place in India, the accused, on pretext of taking a photo, “had forcefully pulled the girl towards him and held her so tightly that she couldn’t move or free herself from his grip”.
“Mr. Singh further deliberately slid his hand down her shoulder and brushed his hand against her breasts,” her father said, in the FIR.
According to her father, Mr. Singh told the victim to stay in touch with him. “If you support me, I will support you. Stay in touch with me,” Mr. Singh told the victim, to which she responded, “Sir, I’ve come this far on my own and I’ll work hard to go ahead”.
However, Mr. Singh then allegedly warned her that Asian Championship trials were to take place soon, and since she wasn’t cooperating with him, “she’ll have to bear the repercussions in the trials”.
“My daughter, a young wrestler, is at the beginning of her career. She couldn’t muster the courage to face a sexual predator like the accused and as such could not make a complaint or raise these issues with the Federation as the Federation is totally under the control of the accused and works as per his dictates,” the victim’s father said in the FIR.
Another wrestler, in the FIR, said Mr. Singh first sexually assaulted her in August last year. “When I was training, the accused called me separately, to which I refused since the accused was also touching other girls inappropriately. However, he called me again, pulled up my t-shirt and touched my belly on the pretext of checking my breath,” the wrestler said.
The wrestler further said she had noticed that none of the female wrestlers would ever plan on going out independently. “In fact, all female wrestlers always went out together, only to avoid meeting the accused,” she said.
“He used to forcefully, and against the wishes of the female athletes, try to separate them from their group and then ask inappropriate personal questions which we were not comfortable answering,” she said.
The woman in the FIR asserted, “It is necessary to stop the accused from committing more acts of sexual harassment and exploitation and I request you register a case against him and put him behind bars.”
“I informed the Prime Minister about the repeated sexual, emotional, physiological, physical trauma which was meted upon me and other female wrestlers by the accused, in conspiracy with his close aids to which, the Prime Minister reassured me that such grievances will be looked into by the Sports Ministry and I will shortly be getting a call from the Sports Ministry,” she said.
Another wrestler, in the police FIR alleged, “During the recording of my statement, I noticed that they [Oversight Committee] kept on switching the camera on and off at repeated intervals. Also, to my surprise and utter shock, the members of the Committee were trying to justify the actions of the accused as if nothing wrong had been done. It appeared that the Committee was already sitting with a premeditated mind to favour the accused.”
“As I had serious doubts if my statement had been recorded completely or not, I requested the Committee for a copy of the video recording but the Committee denied to supply me the copy. This further strengthened my doubts regarding the Committee being partial and biased... I fear that despite the Committee having been constituted to looking into the allegations against the accused, I would not get justice as the accused is a powerful and connected person and the Committee appears to be acting as per his instruction,” she said.
The wrestler further said when the protest at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, was under way the accused with the help of his goons tried to contact her through her husband and he was threatened that if she said anything against the accused before the Committee, they would have to face “dire consequences”.
Another wrestler in the FIR narrated a similar ordeal. While getting a team photograph clicked, the wrestler, who was standing at the back, noticed somebody touching her inappropriately.
“The accused came and stood alongside me… To my shock and surprise, I suddenly felt a hand on my buttock. I immediately looked back and to my horror, it was the accused who had committed the act. I was stunned by the actions of the accused which were highly indecent and objectionable and without my consent. I immediately tried to move away from that spot in order to protect myself from further inappropriate touching by the accused. However, when I tried moving away, I was forcibly held by the accused. Somehow I managed to get free,” the woman said.
“He also offered to buy me supplements which I may require as an athlete in exchange for sexual favours,” another wrestler alleged.
Another wrestler, in the police FIR claimed that she was sexually harassed by the accused, when she sustained an injury during a championship. The wrestler was called to the federation office, where Mr. Singh had allegedly told her that the federation will bear all expenses pertaining to the treatment, “provided she gives in to his sexual advances.”
This story first appeared in The Hindu
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