Vinesh Phogat: India Wrestlers Seek Chief’s Arrest Over Sexual Abuse Claims
Asia Crime India

Vinesh Phogat: India Wrestlers Seek Chief’s Arrest Over Sexual Abuse Claims

Indian wrestlers are protesting again in Delhi, demanding the arrest of the chief of the sport’s governing federation for alleged sexual abuse.

They had called off protests in January after the government promised to investigate their complaints.

The athletes had accused Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Singh and other officials of sexually harassing women wrestlers for years.

Mr Singh has denied the allegations.

The protests in January had made international headlines. At the time, the WFI had denied all the allegations made by the wrestlers, including that of sexual misconduct.

As the protests continued, the government asked Mr Singh to step aside for a few weeks and formed a panel to oversee the federation’s activities. There is no clarity on the status of his position. The WFI website still lists Mr Singh as its president.

The Indian Olympic Association also set up a committee to investigate the allegations against Mr Singh, who is a lawmaker and politician from the governing Bharatiya Janata Party. The committee submitted its report in April but its findings haven’t been revealed yet.

The BBC has emailed Mr Singh for comment on the allegations.

The wrestlers restarted their protests on Sunday, seeking Mr Singh’s arrest. They added that seven women athletes had filed separate police complaints against Mr Singh, accusing him of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation.

They are also demanding that the government make public the report submitted by the panel that investigated the allegations.

On Sunday night, Vinesh Phogat, a two-time World Championship medallist, tweeted a photo of the protesters sleeping in the open.

“From podium to footpath! Under the open sky at night in the hope of justice,” she tweeted.

Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik are also part of the protests.

Ms Phogat had alleged in January that at least 10 female wrestlers had confessed to her that they were sexually exploited by Mr Singh. She had also said that they would not compete in international tournaments unless Mr Singh was removed from the post.

Ms Phogat had earlier told the BBC that the wrestlers would file a police complaint “at the right time”.

Experts have said that the protests by the wrestlers are significant as it was the first time that top athletes had come together to speak up against alleged abuse of power.

Source : BBC