Wrestlers protest: Brij Bhushan says he’s harmless, calls stir a motivated marketing campaign

Underneath-fire Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh staunchly defended himself on Saturday, refuting sexual harassment allegations by prime wrestlers and claiming that the Congress get together and a “prominent industrialist” have been behind the weeklong sit-in protests.

Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh(ANI )

Addressing the media at his residence in Bishnoharpur, close to Gonda, the sixth-term BJP MP from UP’s Kaiserganj stated: “I am completely innocent and have full faith in Supreme Court and Delhi Police. I am ready to face any kind of investigation. Resigning as president of the Wrestling Federation of India is not a big deal for me, but I will not resign as a criminal. If I resign, it would mean that I have accepted their allegations.”

The Delhi Police have registered two FIRs, together with one beneath the POCSO (Safety of Youngsters from Sexual Offences) Act as one of many seven complainants is a juvenile. The FIRs have been registered on Friday after the wrestlers, who resumed their sit-in at Jantar Mantar final Sunday, petitioned the Supreme Courtroom.

Singh stated the wrestlers have been shifting the goalposts. “Every day they are coming up with new demands. They wanted an FIR and that has been done. Now they are saying I should be sent to jail and resign from all posts.”

“I am an MP because of the people of my constituency and not because of Vinesh Phogat. Only one family and akhara are protesting. Why aren’t people from any other place complaining?”

One FIR was registered beneath Indian Penal Code’s sections 354 (molestation), 354(A) (sexual harassment), 354(D) (stalking) and 34 (frequent intention), clubbing the complaints of the six grownup wrestlers. The second FIR was based mostly on the criticism of the juvenile wrestler, invoking Part 10 of the POCSO Act along with the 4 IPC sections from the primary FIR, a police officer stated. Part 34 means involvement of multiple individual within the crime, although police didn’t say if anybody else has been accused by the complainants.

Police is prone to document the statements of the complainants from Sunday. Singh is but to be served a discover asking him to seem earlier than the investigating workforce and be part of the probe. “Of the seven complainants, some are on the sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar, where some politicians met them on Saturday. The juvenile wrestler is not there. The investigating team will meet each of them and record their statement,” an officer stated.

“Along with the victims, we will also record statements of people who will be identified by them as witnesses to the sexual harassment. As the allegations date back to between 2012 and 2022, in and outside Delhi and abroad as well, it will be difficult for us to get any electronic evidence such as CCTV footage. We will ask the complainants to share with us any electronic evidence, such as sexually-coloured messages, if any, that they may have saved with them,” a second officer stated.

The primary official stated at the least one police officer has been deployed with every complainant.

Alleging conspiracy, Singh, 66, stated, “I have audio of a male wrestler telling someone to arrange a victim. I have shared that audio recording with the oversight committee (of the union sports ministry). I won’t resign till the charges against me aren’t proved.”

He criticised Congress basic secretary Priyanka Gandhi visiting the protesters on Saturday.

“Today, it became clear who is behind this controversy. I have been saying from the beginning that an industrialist and the Congress have a hand in this. They are upset with me.”

He claimed that the protesting wrestlers had tried to keep away from the nationals by in search of exemption. Vinesh Phogat denied it. “Ever since I started competing in 2009, I’ve skipped solely 4 nationals. I obtained injured throughout the Rio Video games (2016), which was the primary yr. I skipped the nationals throughout Covid close to Tokyo Video games. I personally was down with Covid. The third nationwide I skipped was after Tokyo as a result of I used to be not in a very good psychological state after the defeat. I might have finished something to myself at the moment (because of despair). The fourth I missed was this yr. I had requested permission to skip the world championships trials as a result of slicing weight thrice in a month is troublesome. I’ve competed in 10 nationals and haven’t misplaced as soon as.”

Tokyo Video games bronze medallist Bajrang Punia stated, “This issue is not about nationals. This is about sexual harassment. He should answer those questions.”

There was a twitter spat between cousins Vinesh and wrestler-turned-BJP politician Babita Phogat. “Sportspersons are succesful to struggle their very own battles. Their stage shouldn’t be used to say brownie political factors,” Babita tweeted, referring to politicians visiting the protest web site.

Vinesh tweeted in response, “If you are not standing for the rights of aggrieved female wrestlers, Babita sister, I request you not to weaken our movement. It has taken years for female wrestlers to speak up against their abusers. You are also a woman, try to understand our pain.”

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