Wrestlers Alleging Sexual Harassment Wear Black Armbands in Protest at Jantar Mantar

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NEW DELHI,INDIA -JANUARY 20: Indian wrestlers and their supporters participate in a protest demanding the removal of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president, who has been accused of sexual harassment on January 20, 2023 in New Delhi, India. Women wrestlers accused the member of parliament from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Wrestling Federation of India president, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and other coaches of sexual harassment. (Photo by Imtiyaz Khan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A group of wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar have decided to wear black armbands in protest against the alleged delay in the police investigation. The protesters, including some of India’s top wrestlers such as Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh Phogat, have accused Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexual harassment.

Among the seven female wrestlers who filed police complaints against Brij Bhushan, the lone minor has recorded her statement before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. A notice has been sent to the WFI, requesting specific documents and details of tournaments in which the complainants participated. Some incidents of alleged sexual harassment are believed to have taken place during tournaments attended by Brij Bhushan.

While the statements of the other six complainants are yet to be recorded before the magistrate, the Delhi Police has already recorded the statements of 15 witnesses associated with the case. The police have also obtained the report of the oversight committee chaired by Olympian boxer Mary Kom, which was established to investigate the complaints against Brij Bhushan.

Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, one of the protesting wrestlers, has appealed for the statements of the alleged victims to be recorded before a magistrate. The wrestlers initially filed separate complaints of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation against Brij Bhushan at Delhi’s Connaught Place police station. After the police failed to register FIRs, the wrestlers approached the Supreme Court, which resulted in the registration of two FIRs—one under the POCSO Act and another based on the complaints of adult women wrestlers.

The wrestlers have vowed to end their protest only when Brij Bhushan is arrested under the appropriate sections. Sakshi Malik, on behalf of the protesters, has challenged the WFI president to take a narco test, expressing their willingness to undergo the same. The wrestlers are determined to uncover the truth and ensure that justice is served in this case of alleged sexual harassment.

Overall, the wrestlers continue to demand swift action and a fair investigation into their complaints, while drawing attention to the issue of sexual harassment within the wrestling community.

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