Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is accused of sexual harassment by women wrestlers, is set to organise a rally at Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda on Sunday to mark nine years of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government in the Centre.
Meanwhile, as the talks are going on to resolve wrestlers’ issues, one of India’s top athletes, Sakshi Malik, has said grapplers will not participate in Asian Games unless the matter is completely resolved.
Malik’s comments have come ahead of trials for the Asiad, scheduled to take place later this month. All the wrestlers, including those involved in the protest, need to compete at trials and earn their place in the team India for the Asian Games, which will be held in Hangzhou, China from September 23 to October 8, 2023.
Wrestlers Vs WFI Chief Top Updates:
▶BJP MP Brij Bhushan Singh has asked his supporters, BJP office-bearers and workers, among others to join his rally in Gonda today. Madhya Pradesh Higher Education Minister Mohan Yadav will be the chief guest at the event, which is being seen as a show of strength after Brij Bhushan’s earlier proposed ‘Jan Chetna Maharally’ at Ayodhya on June 5 was postponed, according to a report by The Hindu.
▶Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, who was in Sonipat on Saturday to attend the Mahapanchayat to decide on the future course of action for wrestlers, who have been demanding the resignation of outgoing WFI chief Singh over allegations of sexual harassment, said, “We will participate in Asian Games only when all these issues will be resolved. You can’t understand how mentally exhausting this is and what we are going through every day.”
▶ Malik has also reportedly claimed that pressure is being put on the protesting wrestler to compromise and it is under pressure that the minor wrestler, who has levelled allegations of sexual harassment against Brij Bhushan Sharan, has changed her statement.
▶”There’s huge pressure on us to compromise,” Sakshi told a television channel, claiming that people close to Brij Bhushan have been calling and threatening them.
▶Malik further claimed that efforts are being made to break the victims. “It’s proved, the statements were recorded under section 161 and 164 and it changed. We can’t understand,” Sakshi said referring to withdrawal of sexual harassment charges by a minor, who is one of the seven complainants in the case.
▶”It is clear that father of the minor was under pressure. Pressure is being built. For how long we will fight then,” she said. “Bajrang is getting calls, bik jao, toot jao (take bribe, end the protest). Wrong narratives are being set (by media). It breaks our hearts,” she said
▶She also claimed that the father of the complainant minor wrestler is suffering from depression because of the pressure put on him to withdraw the complaint.
▶Earlier on Wednesday, Malik along with Bajrang Punia and others had met Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur at his home and said that the government has asked for time till June 15 for the police investigation to complete.
▶The government had assured the wrestlers that a charge-sheet will be filed against the outgoing WFI chief Singh by June 15, following which they had halted their protest.
▶”The government has asked for time till June 15 for the police investigation to complete. It has agreed on most of our proposals related to wrestling. Now, we will keep these proposals in front of the farmers’ unions, women’s unions, our seniors and khap panchayats. So, we won’t have any protest till June 15 but our ‘movement’ against the WFI chief will continue,” Sakshi had told IANS.
▶Malik said efforts are being made to break the victims. “It’s proved, the statements were recorded under section 161 and 164 and it changed. We can’t understand,” Sakshi said referring to withdrawal of sexual harassment charges by a minor, who is one of the seven complainants in the case.
▶”We will not compete in Asian Games until a proper resolution comes out in this case. You can’t understand the mental agony we are going through everyday,” said Sakshi Bajrang Punia, one of the key members of the protest, while speaking during the panchayat, insisted that no politics is involved in their stir against the WFI chief.
▶Later speaking to media, Bajrang Punia, another key member of the protest said, “We had called this Panchayat to inform everyone the discussion we had. If a strong action is not taken by June 15, we will resume our protest.”
▶He said they have not yet decided on the venue of the protest and it could be either “Jantar Mantar or Ram Leela Maidan”.
▶The police has already made it clear that the wrestlers will not be allowed back to Jantar Mantar.
▶Vinesh Phogat was not part of the discussion when Thakur had invited wrestlers for an interaction and she was absent even on Saturday. Asked about this, both Bajrang and Sakshi gave different answers.
▶”Let me tell you that Sakshi, Bajrang and Vinesh are one. Vinesh is handling the legal issue, there is lot of other work as well. Rumours are being spread that we are stepping back. We are one, we are united in our decisions,” said Sakshi.
▶Bajrang said, “Vinesh is unwell that is why she is not here today.”
▶Both Bajrang and Sakshi criticised the Delhi Police for taking one of the victims to WFI office in New Delhi when the accused was also present on the premises.
▶Meanwhile, stepping up its probe into sexual harassment allegations, the Delhi Police on Friday took a woman wrestler to WHI Chief Singh’s office in the national capital to recreate the sequence of events that led to the alleged crime.
▶International referee Jagbir Singh also came out in support of protesting wrestlers and claimed that he has been a witness to Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s inappropriate behaviour towards female grapplers on several occasions since 2013.
▶”I am an UWW referee since 2007 and I have been a referee before the birth of the 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.
▶Jagbir, who has been a coach-cum-international referee since 2007, said he witnessed Brij Bhushan’s misbehaviour with his own eyes on numerous occasions.
(With inputs from agencies)