IMAGE: Wrestlers at a sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday. Photograph: Vinesh Phogat/Twitter
The Delhi Commission for Women has issued notices to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the city police after wrestler Vinesh Phogat accused BJP MP and Wresting Federation of India (WFI) President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexually exploiting women wrestlers.
DCW chief Swati Maliwal also met the protesting wrestlers at the Jantar Mantar.
The DCW said it has taken suo moto cognisance of media reports about allegations of sexual harassment made against the president of Wrestling Federation of India and some wrestling coaches, the panel said.
The panel has also asked police to register an FIR in the matter.
“As per the reports, renowned women Olympian wrestlers of India have accused the WFI president and some coaches of sexually harassing women wrestlers. This is a very a serious matter,” the panel said.
It has sought a copy of complaints made by women wrestlers against coaches and WFI president alongwith details of action taken thereon by January 21. It has also sought details of Internal Complaints Committee formed by the Wrestling Federation of India.
The panel also asked whether these complaints have been forwarded to the ICC and the Local Complaint Committee (LCC) as per Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
However, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh denied any incident of sexual harassment.
“There has been no incident of sexual harassment. If such a thing has happened, then I will hang myself,” said the president during a press conference.
He also said that he is ready for investigation.
“Sexual harassment is a big allegation. How can I take action when my own name has been dragged into this? I am ready for an investigation,” said Brij Bhushan.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh added that wrestlers, who made allegations of sexual harassment against coaches, should have approached the Federation with their names earlier.
The WFI president said those protesting were pressured into it. “97 per cent of players are with the WFI. I am hurt by the sexual harassment allegations. Not a single player can bring such charges against me or the chief coach. Some wrestlers were pressured to sit on a dharna,” Singh said.
He claimed that star wrestler Vinesh Phogat had demanded a few days back that the chief coach should be changed, but coaches cannot be changed on the whims of a player.
“A few days ago, in a meeting, Vinesh (Phogat) demanded that chief coach be changed. A coach can’t be changed on the whims and fancies of one player. We have to think about players from other states as well. They should have come with names of the coaches, who they claimed are involved in sexual harassment, earlier,” Bhushan told ANI.
Wrestler Divya Kakran defends WFI chief Brij Bhushan
Asian Games and Commonwealth Games medallist wrestler Divya Kakran on Wednesday defended the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Saran Singh, who has been accused of sexual harassment, saying that she has not experienced or witnessed any instances of the same by Bhushan during her decade-long experience of attending camps organised by the governing body.
Notably, Vinesh Phogat on Wednesday alleged that coaches who are favourites of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) misbehave with women and harass them.
She also accused the wrestling federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexually harassing girls and calling her a ‘khota sikka’ after her defeat at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
“Since morning, a lot of allegations are being made against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Saran Singh. No one is questioning those who are levelling these baseless allegations. When old allegations are not working, the accusers are in search of new allegations against Sharan. Since 2013, when I was 14, I have been going to camp and I attend it even now. Till day, he has done nothing wrong with me or any woman for that matter. Wrestlers from Haryana and UP are supported well by them and he makes sure that they are not discriminated against,” said the wrestler in a self-made video.
“I cannot understand that the ones protesting were posting just two months back on social media that the arrival of Brij Bhushan Singh in the WFI as its chief had changed wrestling. These are the people who thank him for the awards they get and thank him for not making them suffer any kind shortages or discrimination. They also said that today nationals take place at various age groups, when it used to start at 19 years of age earlier. There are ranking series, Khelo India events. These are happening because of the money from sponsors. At lower levels, children experience improvement in their game. Brij Bhushan is promoting the sport making use of his top office,” concluded Kakran.