• Monday, May 27, 2024

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Indian police book wrestling body chief over sexual harassment claims

Two First Information Reports were filed hours after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Delhi Police, told the Supreme Court that a case would be registered on Friday

Wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik speak to the media during a protest against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Singh, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Friday. (Photo: ANI)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

Delhi Police have booked Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over allegations of sexual harassment levelled by seven women wrestlers.

Two First Information Reports (FIRs) were filed hours after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Delhi Police, told the Supreme Court that a case would be registered on Friday (28).

While the first FIR pertains to allegations of a minor wrestler and was registered under the child sex offence laws, the second was related to outraging modesty.

After Mehta’s submission, the country’s top wrestlers, who have been on a sit-in at Jantar Mantar in Delhi since Sunday (23) demanding action against Singh, rejoiced “the first step towards victory” but said they would continue their agitation. They demanded that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP be removed from all the positions he holds.

The film and sporting fraternity and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee put their weight behind the protesting wrestlers with Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra leading the way calling for “quick action” to ensure that justice is served.

Besides Chopra, a champion javelin thrower, ace boxer Nikhat Zareen, tennis star Sania Mirza, hockey player Rani Rampal, former cricketers Kapil Dev, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Madan Lal and Navjot Singh Sidhu also came out in support of the wrestlers.

A Supreme Court bench is hearing a plea filed by seven women wrestlers on non-registration of an FIR on their sexual harassment allegations against Singh.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the wrestlers, placed on record an affidavit in a sealed cover which voiced apprehension about the safety of a minor girl, an alleged victim of sexual assault.

“Bearing in mind the content which has been placed on record, we direct the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, to make an assessment of the threat perception and provide adequate security to the minor girl involved,” the bench said in its order.

It said an affidavit be filed before it on or before May 5, the next date of hearing, about the steps taken for the security of the minor girl.

Sibal said there are seven complainants, including the minor girl, and they all should be given protection.

The bench said its direction for providing security to the alleged minor victim shall not stand in the way of the Commissioner of Police making an independent assessment of the threat perception of the other complainants.

Opposition party leaders, meanwhile, hit out at Indian Olympics Association (IOA) President PT Usha for criticising the protests.

Usha, a Rajya Sabha member, had condemned the protest, saying the grapplers lacked discipline in hitting the street in support of their demand. She also said their action has tarnished the image of India.

Responding to Usha’s comments, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said ignoring their pleas tarnishes the country’s image, not hearing them out.

(PTI)

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