Brij Bhushan Singh: India Wrestlers Continue Protest Against Top Official
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Brij Bhushan Singh: India Wrestlers Continue Protest Against Top Official

Protests by India’s top wrestlers against their federation chief have entered the second week amid a deadlock.

The wrestlers are demanding the arrest of Wrestling Federation Of India chief Brij Bhushan Singh, alleging he has sexually harassed female athletes.

Mr Singh has denied the allegations and says he does not want to resign.

Police registered two cases against him last week.

One of the cases has been registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act based on a complaint from a minor wrestler.

The police action came after the top wrestlers approached India’s Supreme Court, alleging that a case was not registered against Mr Singh despite several complaints of sexual misconduct.

The wrestlers first began protesting in January – at the time, two-time World Championship medallist Vinesh Phogat alleged that at least 10 women wrestlers had told her they had been sexually exploited by Mr Singh, who is an influential lawmaker and politician from the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Mr Singh and the WFI had denied the allegations at the time.

Days later, the wrestlers called off protests after the federal government assured them of action and asked Mr Singh to step aside for a few weeks. The Indian Olympic Association also set up a committee to investigate the allegations against Mr Singh.

But the wrestlers restarted protests on 23 April and say they won’t budge until Mr Singh is either arrested or the investigation is over.

On Monday, the athletes, along with their friends and families, sat in the pouring rain at the Jantar Mantar heritage site in capital Delhi. Temporary tents had been set up using ropes and tarpaulin sheets for shelter from the rain.

The protesters have received support from many opposition leaders and sportspersons, including Olympic medallists, who have visited the protest site in recent days.

Meanwhile, Mr Singh has alleged that the protests were “paid”, politically motivated and were targeted at his party.

He had earlier said that he was ready to face an investigation but that he would not resign.

“Resignation is not a big deal but I am not a criminal. If I resign, it will mean that I have accepted their [wrestlers’] allegations,” he told reporters on Saturday. He added that his tenure as the WFI chief was almost over and that a panel formed by the government would oversee elections in 45 days.

Source : BBC