Wrestling Federal of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on Saturday refused to resign after wrestlers accused him of sexual harassment, saying if he did that it will amount to his admission that he was “a criminal”.
“Their (wrestlers’) demands are constantly changing. They first asked for my resignation as WFI chief, I said that would mean accepting the charges against me. Resignation is no big deal, but I won’t do it as a criminal. I am not a criminal,” he said.
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And as BJP MLAs from his region flocked to the BJP MP’s house showing support, he said he was not bothered by the wresters’ protest on the streets of Delhi as he had always faced difficulties.
He reiterated that he was innocent and will cooperate with any enquiry as he trusts the judicial system.
“I have been facing abuses and allegations for months now. This hurts my family and supporters, but I want an impartial enquiry,” he said.
“They instigated people against me for four months and kept bringing new people to make accusations. They are saying I should be in jail.”
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said his Lok Sabha membership was not because of “the largesse of Vinesh Phogat” — one of the wrestlers leading the protest – “but because of the people”.
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He also blamed “one family” and “one akhada” (wrestling arena) besides a businessman for his troubles.
The MP spoke to the media as he was heavily garlanded and surrounded by supporters in Gonda in eastern Uttar Pradesh. He said he was yet to get a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) supposedly filed by Delhi Police following complaints of sexual harassment against him by several women wrestlers.
His supporters called the allegations against him a conspiracy by the Congress.
“This isn’t a protest by wrestlers. It’s a pre-planned event,” said Ajay Pratap Singh, MLA from Colonelganj constituency in Gonda.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi met the protesting wrestlers at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on Saturday to express solidarity with their demand. She flayed the Delhi Police for not providing a copy of the FIR filed against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh to the wrestlers.
Also Read: Wrestlers move SC seeking FIR against Brij Bhushan Singh, welcome parties to join stir
“I don’t have any expectations from the PM (Narendra Modi), because if he is worried about these wrestlers, then why has he not talked to them or met them yet?,” she said.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders also visited the protest site and expressed solidarity with the wrestlers.
The Delhi Police have filed two cases against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. One of the FIRs is over a complaint of sexual harassment by a minor, filed under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act which offers no scope for bail.
Mahua blasts Usha
Also, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra took a dig at women leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party for maintaining silence over the wrestlers’ complaints.
“Or aren’t female athletes ‘sanskari’ enough to be worth standing up for?” the firebrand MP asked.
Also Read: Delhi Police seek report from panel probing WFI chief; 7 wrestlers file complaint
Moitra had earlier slammed Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha for alleging that the wrestlers were “tarnishing India’s image” by protesting on the streets.
Hitting out at Usha, Moitra asked whether the damaging allegations against a MP of the ruling party and Delhi Police’s earlier refusal to register a case “makes India smell of roses”.