22 July Monday

Dear PM , Hear this Man Ki Baat !

ABIN RAJ R SUpdated: Tuesday May 30, 2023

Dear PM , Hear this Man Ki Baat !

The gloves are off as leading Olympian and World Champion wrestlers decided to enter the ring to fight and staged a dharna at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, raising serious allegations about sexual harassment by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president, a BJP MP, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and by coaches appointed at national training camps.

Athletes who have won international competitions and hoisted the tricolour are on the streets seeking justice. The central government is criminally silent in front of the accusation that the daughters of the country have been humiliated. The Modi government is not ready to listen to the Mann Ki Baat of our stars. After the revelation that seven female wrestlers were sexually assaulted for a long time, the stance taken by the Union Government, the Sports Ministry, and the Delhi Police is shocking. 

Why did the wrestlers take to streets?

The incidents started in January 2023, when Vinesh Phogat raised a sexual allegation complaint against National Wrestling Federation (WFI) president and Kaisarganj BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. The incident led to huge protests, and the three-day long protest at Jantar Mantar led by the stars gained a lot of attention.

The complaint is that sexual harassment took place many times from 2012 to 2022. A 16-year-old girl is also among the complainants, so the Delhi Police is closing in on the complaints to be filed by the POCSO department. When the athletes approached the Supreme Court, the Delhi Police responded that they could file a case if the court said so.

The first phase of the strike was based on the promises made after the discussion with Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, including the appointment of a committee to investigate the grievances and end the protest. Based on this, an oversight committee was formed in January to investigate the allegations and look into the day-to-day affairs of the wrestling federation. The report of the committee has not been released yet.

On April 23, the wrestlers again protested at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi. The protest began by pointing out that the Delhi Police did not file a case against Brij Bhushan in a sexual assault complaint filed by seven wrestlers, including a minor. And the demand for the resignation and arrest of Brij Bhushan Singh has also intensified. The Delhi Police informed the Supreme Court that they were ready to file a case, and the steps were accelerated when the wrestlers approached the Supreme Court.

Moreover, the sportspersons also complain that the names and pictures of the victims were handed over to the accused by the Delhi Police. Athletes are constantly threatened with dire consequences if they do not withdraw their complaints. This shows the deterioration of law and order and administration of justice in the national capital. Last January, sportspeople protested at Jantar Mantar on the same issue. As the strike dragged on, the Sports Ministry intervened and appointed an oversight committee led by boxing star and MP Mary Kom to investigate. Even after the deadline, the report did not see the light of day. As the protests started again, the main findings of the report released by the government contained nothing about the allegations against Brijbhushan. Former wrestler Babita, who was a member of the inquiry committee, revealed that she did not agree to read the final content of the report. The Sports Ministry told the Indian Olympic Association that the report only pointed out that there were some structural problems in the WFI.

Physiotherapist Paramjeet Malik, who was in the Lucknow training camp in 2014, has revealed that the official system is working in Brijbhushan's interest. Paramjeet confirmed that the three junior players in the camp had told him about the threats and harassment. She told this to the senior players as well. Paramjeet says that he was excluded from the camp after complaining about this. This is the answer to the question of why we did not talk about torture earlier. Athletes can face retaliation if they protest or complain. They fear that the future will disappear with it.

Who is Bjij Bhushan Saran Singh?

BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is moving from accusation to accusation. The Babri Masjid demolition case, helping Dawood Ibrahim, the murder confession, the firing, and finally the sex complaint of the wrestlers Brij Bhushan's criminal background is developing day by day. He is standing between the political walls he has built as if there is no movement. Despite the serious allegations levelled against the party's MP and protests on the streets, the BJP is not ready to respond to them.

A six-time BJP MP, Bhushan's hold on the party is not small. Despite being a politician, Bhushan, who has always been close to wrestling, describes himself as 'strong'. Bhushan spent most of his youth in the akhadas of Ayodhya. He has been the President of the Wrestling Federation of India and Vice President of United World Wrestling Asia for almost 10 years. He was present in every tournament, be it national or international, junior or senior. Bhushan had the final say in all crucial decisions of the wrestling federation. That is why the proceedings against Brij Bhushan are being delayed despite such a big allegation.

Known for his staunch Hindutva ideology, Brij Bhushan was part of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement. In 1992, he was arrested by the CBI as the prime accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Later in 2020, the court gave it a clean chit. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1991 from Gonda, Uttar Pradesh. Bhushan's later political career was occasionally surrounded by controversies. He had the face of a gangster in BJP politics.

He was booked by TADA for helping Dawood Ibrahim at JJ Hospital in Mumbai in 1992. But there was no evidence against Brij Bhushan, and he was acquitted and returned to the Lok Sabha in 1998. Dramatic political career later. Bhushan left the BJP in 2008 and joined the Samajwadi Party. But he could not make the Samajwadi Party a centre of activity because he was willing to accept only Hindutva ideology. So he returned to the BJP. In an interview with a web portal in 2022, he also revealed that he had shot and killed a man.

The group led by Vinesh Phogat called off the three-day strike after a discussion with Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur. But when none of the promises were fulfilled, they again took to the streets. Meanwhile, seven female wrestlers came forward with complaints. When the authorities did not open their eyes, the actors approached the court against Brij Bhushan. This is the backlash for the head of the wrestling federation. Bhushan has been denying it ever since the sexual allegations surfaced.

Brij Bhushan initially responded by saying, "If anyone comes forward and proves that he was sexually assaulted, you can hang me that day." The decision of the Delhi Police today is a blow to Bhushan's confidence that the party will support him on the strength of the Hindutva base he has created, no matter what.

Brijbhushan, who was accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, is a very desirable person for the BJP. The athletes had taken a stand that political leaders should not come to the venue in January to avoid the accusations getting political. However, the sportspersons regret that they were deceived by the government's order to end the strike. Now they are asking everyone for support. They sought help from political leaders, youth activists, farmers' movements, and trade unions. They requested that to join hands to protect the self-esteem of female athletes.

The Wrestling Federation's stand:

Bhushan says that it is Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh who is deciding matters in the wrestling federation. He is denying the accusations made by the female wrestlers. If he stands aside now, it is the same as accepting the crime, and he is ready for any investigation if the crime is proven. Brij Bhushan is mixing politics into the allegations and says that the Congress and some industrialists are behind the strike in Jantar Mantar.

Maladministration in the sprots sector is confined to Wrestling Federation:

Reports indicate that half of the country's sports federations do not have internal committees for sexual harassment complaints, which are responsible for considering complaints made by wrestlers. Reports indicate that internal committees (ICC) with specific criteria are present in 16 of the total 30 sports federations in India. It is when the sports sector is left without a master that the exploiters take hold of it. The experience of the wrestlers is a setback for those who dream of a world-class sports sector in the country.

The police action that suppressed the march of India's wrestlers to Parliament demanding a case against the ruling MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh with lathis is highly condemnable and reprehensible. Olympic medalists Sakshi Malik and Vinesh who marched with the national flag, were dragged and arrested, and the protest stage was demolished. Farmers who came in support of the strike have been stopped at the Delhi border, and the leaders have been arrested and deported.

They are the pride of India and have raised the glory of India with solidarity!