Several retired IPS officers have accused Delhi police of compromising the investigation into the sexual assault charges against the outgoing Wrestling Federation of India chief and BJP parliamentarian Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, suggesting “political interference” is the likely reason.
They have cited sports minister Anurag Thakur’s statement that the probe would be completed by June 15.
“Polity and @IPS_Assoication must be shocked to hear from Sports minister that chargesheet will be filed by June 15 in wrestlers case. Even PM does not have say over investigation acc to CrPC. @CPDelhi is silent – politics control police. No proof reqd,” Yashovardhan Azad, who served as special director in the Intelligence Bureau, tweeted.
The Delhi police report to the Union home ministry.
After meeting the protesting wrestlers, who are demanding Singh’s immediate arrest, on Wednesday, Thakur had said: “I had a long, six-hour discussion with the wrestlers. We have assured them that the probe will be completed by June 15 and a chargesheet will be submitted.”
Following the assurance, the wrestlers said they had agreed to halt their protest for a week but their agitation “was not over yet”.
“The statement made by the sports minister speaks volumes about the way the police have so far handled this serious case. Who is the minister to speak on the progress of the case and say when a chargesheet would be filed? It shows clear political interference,” a former CBI director told The Telegraph.
He said it was the job of the Delhi police commissioner and his subordinates to make statements on the case and not a politician who had nothing to do with the investigation of a criminal case.
“The police registered two FIRs in the case on April 28 after a prod from the Supreme Court. So far, the police top brass have not issued any formal statement on the investigation,” the former CBI director said.
“Suddenly, the sports minister declared the police would complete the probe by June 15. If this is not political interference, what is? It appears to be a fully compromised investigation.”
A former joint commissioner of Delhi police said there had been too many lapses on the part of the Delhi police in the case since the outset.
“First, they sat on the complaint and registered an FIR only after the apex court intervened. Under normal circumstances, the accused would have been arrested immediately considering the gravity of the charges under the Pocso Act. The slow probe makes it clear that politicians are calling the shots,” he said.
Since one of the seven wrestlers who have accused Singh of sexual harassment is a minor, one of the FIRs has been registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso)Act. The minor’s statement was first recorded before a magistrate in the first week of May.
The minor wrestler’s father recently withdrew the complaint saying it was false and had been filed in anger at Singh for discriminating against his daughter.
However, the father was quoted by The Hindu newspaper as saying he had been threatened by people whose names he could not reveal and that his family was “living in intense fear”.
The former joint commissioner referred to how the Delhi police had roughed up and dragged the protesting wrestlers away from Jantar Mantar on May 28 while Prime Minster Narendra Modi was inaugurating the new Parliament building.
“The two contrasting images stood out: India’stop wrestlers being dragged and pinned to the ground by the police and the accused Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh standing inside the new Parliament building which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi on May 28,” he said.
“Banning the wrestlers from Jantar Mantar and inviting the accused to the inauguration of the new building was a clear indication to the police who the political leadership is siding with.”
A retired BSF director-general said the police should have investigated the case with due diligence and without fear or bias.
“They should have arrested the accused immediately and filed a chargesheet in the court to facilitate a speedy trial. It’s absolutely clear that the Delhi police have failed to act impartially, possibly because of too much political interference.”
In the two FIRs, Singh has been accused of demanding “sexual favours” in lieu of professional assistance. The FIRs cite at least 15 alleged instances of sexual harassment including inappropriate touching, running hands over the breasts and touching the navel, and alleged instances of intimidation, including stalking.
Singh has dismissed all the allegations.