regular-article-logo Thursday, 28 September 2023

Wrestler ‘told PM’ in 2021 about torment faced from Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, says FIR

‘The Prime Minister reassured me that such grievances will be looked into by the sports ministry and I will shortly be getting a call from the sports ministry’

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui New Delhi Published 03.06.23, 05:18 AM
Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi File Photo

One of India’s top woman wrestlers had told Prime Minister Narendra Modi in person, as far back as 2021, about the “repeated sexual, emotional, physiological, physical trauma” she had allegedly faced from Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, according to one of the two FIRs Delhi police have registered on the wrestlers’ complaint.

Trinamul MP Mahua Moitra tweeted: “Hon’ble PM @narendramodi Ji — relevant section from wrestler’s FIR clearly mentions she met & informed you of MP’s misconduct. You assured her of full support. You did NOTHING. Your vows are all broken, & light is your fame; We hear your name spoken, & share in its shame.”


“The accused no 1 (Singh, Wrestling Federation of India president and BJP parliamentarian) in conspiracy with his close aides got my name deleted from the list of delegation of Olympians who were set to meet the Honourable Prime Minister of India,” the wrestler says in the FIR.

“After being left out from the meeting of the delegation of Olympians held on August 17, 2021, I received a phone call from the Prime Minister’s Office and was informed that my presence is requested by the Honourable PM.

“Pursuant to such request, met Mr Narendra Modi and felt reinvigorated after meeting him and all such negative thoughts about not being able to play for India and thoughts of committing suicide due to the mental trauma inflicted by the accused no 1 and his close associates time and again were gone.

“I also informed the Honourable Prime Minister about the repeated sexual, emotional, physiological, physical trauma which was meted upon me and other female wrestlers by the accused no. 1 in conspiracy with his close aides.

“The Prime Minister reassured me that such grievances will be looked into by the sports ministry and I will shortly be getting a call from the sports ministry.”

Singh came to know of her complaint to the Prime Minister through his “sources”, the complainant says in the FIR.

Soon after, a showcause notice that the federation had earlier issued to her was withdrawn. But, after a short interval, the mental harassment and humiliation resumed, she says.

Men and women wrestlers had protested for over a month at Jantar Mantar demanding the immediate arrest of Singh on sexual harassment charges, but Modi has not spoken a word on the subject.

On May 28, Delhi police — who report to the Union home ministry — roughed up the wrestlers, including Olympic medallists, pinning some of them to the ground, before dragging them away and detaining them. They have been accused of rioting and other offences in an FIR and banned from Jantar Mantar.

The two FIRs that a Supreme Court directive had forced the police to register against Singh accuse him of demanding “sexual favours” in lieu of professional assistance. They allege at least 15 incidents of sexual harassment including multiple instances of inappropriate touching, running hands over breasts, touching the navel, and instances of intimidation including stalking.

Singh is accused of groping women wrestlers, asking inappropriate questions and creating problems — including the denial of professional opportunities — for those who resisted his alleged sexual advances.

The MP has denied all the allegations.

The first FIR combines the complaints of six adult wrestlers and the second is based on a complaint from a minor wrestler’s father.

One of the adult wrestlers has accused Singh of offering to buy her nutritional supplements, which he said she might require as an athlete, in exchange for sexual favours.

She accuses him of forcibly hugging her, and of "continuous acts of sexual harassment and repeated indecent advances" that have left her deeply disturbed.

Another adult complainant says: "I was called by the accused (Singh) who pulled up my T-shirt. Slid his hand down my stomach and put his hand on my navel on the pretext of checking my breath."

One of the wrestlers has alleged that when she suffered an injury during a competition abroad, Singh had said the federation would bear the cost of her treatment if she gave in to his sexual advances.

The first FIR invokes Indian Penal Code Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), 354D (stalking), and 34 (common intention), which carry jail terms of up to three years. The second FIR invokes the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, which entails five to seven years of imprisonment.

People's query

Sources in the Union home ministry said the ministry’s helpline had over the past few days been flooded with calls from ordinary citizens asking why Singh had not been arrested yet.

"We have received hundreds of calls from people across the country over the past four or five days. They asked why Singh had not been arrested yet despite FIRs being registered against him," a ministry official said.

"Several callers expressed disappointment and shock at the Delhi police's failure to act on the wrestlers' complaints."

A former Delhi police commissioner told The Telegraph: "It's bizarre and shocking that the Delhi police have so far failed to arrest Singh despite the seriousness of the allegations. It's apparent that since the matter involves a BJP parliamentarian, they are waiting for a go-ahead from their bosses in the home ministry.

"Is it not ironic that the home ministry has a separate 'women safety division' dedicated to providing speedy justice to women but nothing has been done so far (on the wrestlers' complaints)?"

The women safety division had been set up "to strengthen measures for safety of women in the country and instil greater sense of security in them through speedy and effective administration of justice in a holistic manner and by providing a safer environment for women".

The division had been set up on May 28, 2018 — exactly five years before the Delhi police assaulted the men and women wrestlers publicly at Jantar Mantar on May 28, 2023.

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