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Westlers seeking action against Brij Bhushan Singh: PM observing 'studied silence'

By Manoj Sarang* 

Since the past one-year, Indian wrestlers have been protesting against sexual exploitation and intimidation of the wrestlers by Bhartiya Janata Party Member of Parliament Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the then Wrestling Federation of India chief. Wrestling stalwart and a member of the ruling BJP, Babita Phogat met the protesters and assured action. Soon a letter was written to the Indian Olympic Association President PT Usha. 
Accordingly, a seven-member inquiry committee was constituted including MC Mary Kom and Yogeshwar Dutt. The following day, protest was called-off based on the Sports Minister’s promise of an oversight committee to probe the allegations. All activities of the WFI were suspended, Brij Bhushan Sharan was forced to step aside and Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar suspended. 
A five-member oversight committee was formed led by MC Mary Kom and was supposed to submit a report within four weeks to the Sports Ministry in April. 
The report was not made public at the time though elections were announced for the month of May, but were later stalled by the ministry. It must be noted that the protesting wrestlers were not taken into confidence prior to formation of the committee.
In April, the protests started again with 7 female wrestlers including a minor filing complaints of sexual harassment against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. They said the police refused to file FIR. It was only after the wrestlers moved the Supreme Court that the police filed FIR on directions by the Apex court.
There was a scuffle between the wrestlers and Delhi Police. Protesters sustained head injuries. It was alleged that protesters were manhandled and female wrestlers were misbehaved against by drunk officials. Unfortunately, some wrestlers also sustained injuries.
The police recorded Brij Bhushan Sharan’s statement day after wrestlers challenged test.
Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, along with other protesters, were booked for rioting and obstructing public servant in discharge of duty, while they attempted to march towards the new Parliament, being inaugurated by PM.
With mounting pressure and condemnation from the international community including International Olympic Committee, United World Wrestling against police atrocities on protesting wrestlers, wrestlers came to Haridwar to immerse their medals. The government assured police investigation against Brij Bhushan Sharan and conducting elections resulting in the protests being halted. However, elections were not held for the next couple of months and hence the Wrestling Federation of India was suspended by the United World Wrestling. 
After almost a 6-month delay, elections were held in Dec 2023 and Sanjay Singh, a Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh loyalist was elected chief. In protest, prominent wrestlers including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and speech challenged Virender Singh returned the honors. Eventually the Ministry stepped in and suspended the WFI. It was discovered that the office of WFI was being run from the premises of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Through these events, it is unfortunate to note that the Prime Minister of India observed a studied silence. He is yet to speak, either on a public platform or the Parliament or to the protesters. As the protesters were returning honors and medals, he was busy inaugurating trains, stations, airports having roadshows in Ayodhya in the build-up for the 22nd January 2024 event. 
The Prime Minister should to take a moment from his busy schedule to at least address the issue at the earliest. Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh should be immediate arrest of  prevent him from influencing the judicial proceedings.
---
 *Spokesperson, Socialist Party (India)

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