Vinesh Phogat and seven other wrestlers, including a minor, moved Supreme Court on Monday (April 24), pleading that an FIR be registered against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over their sexual harassment charges.
The athletes, who had in January called off their protest after getting assurances of action from the sports ministry, are back at Jantar Mantar, as they claim that nothing has been done yet. They alleged on Sunday that no FIR has been registered despite their complaints being lodged at Central Delhi’s Connaught Place police station.
#WATCH | Delhi: Wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik break down while interacting with the media as they protest against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Singh pic.twitter.com/OVsWDp2YuA
— ANI (@ANI) April 23, 2023
The wrestlers have vowed to remain at the protest site until the police file an FIR. Phogat, India’s star wrestler, told the media, “We will not believe anyone blindly. Last time, we were misled. We hope this time there is no politics in this case.”
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“All parties welcome”
The wrestlers have also reportedly said that unlike last time, they would welcome anyone who want to support their cause, no matter their political colour. In January, they had turned away Left leader Brinda Karat, calling their protest an apolitical “athletes’ protest”.
“This time, all parties are welcome to join our protest, whether it is BJP, Congress, AAP, or any other party. We are not affiliated with any party,” news agency ANI quoted Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia as saying.
Delhi Police has sought a report from the probe committee set up by the sport ministry to investigate the allegations against Singh. The five-member committee, headed by star boxer MC Mary Kom, reportedly submitted its report in the first week of April, but the findings have not been made public.
“Make report public”
Wrestler Sakshi Malik told the media that they want the report to be made public. It has recorded the women wrestlers’ statements, and one of the complainants is a minor. She added that, therefore, their names should not be mentioned.
Phogat, who spent Sunday night on the pavement, said they would sit at the protest site round the clock until justice is done. The Delhi Commission for Women has already sought details of any FIR registered in the case from the deputy commissioner of police.
Several women wrestlers made public their allegations against Singh on January 18. As the wrestlers continue to protest, the government has deferred the WFI elections that were scheduled to take place on May 7. The government has reportedly asked the Indian Olympic Association to make interim arrangements for managing WFI.
(With agency inputs)