Indian authorities have announced that charges had been filed against the president of the country’s wrestling federation, accusing him of sexual harassment and stalking.
“This development followed a protest led by prominent figures in the sport who demanded his arrest. Brij Bhushan Singh, who is not only the wrestling federation president but also a lawmaker for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had been the target of a sit-in by a group of wrestlers in the capital city of New Delhi back in April.”
“Singh faced allegations from Olympic medalists and other renowned Indian wrestling champions, who accused him of groping female athletes and soliciting sexual favors. The Delhi Police, after conducting an investigation, issued a statement stating that Singh had been charged with sexual harassment and stalking under the Indian Penal Code.”
“Vinod Tomar, an associate of Singh and the former assistant secretary for the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), faced similar charges, along with criminal intimidation and abetment.”
However, the police mentioned that one of the accusations against Singh, which was lodged by a minor, had been withdrawn. Public prosecutor Atul Shrivastava confirmed the filing of the charges.
“As of now, the wrestlers involved in the protest could not be reached for comment.”
“Singh, who has been serving his sixth term as a lawmaker from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, has been at the helm of the wrestling federation for over ten years. He has strongly denied the allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation, asserting that he is a victim of a “conspiracy” designed to remove him from parliament.”
“The protest staged by India’s top wrestlers, which included renowned athletes like Vinesh Phogat, a two-time world champion medalist, and Sakshi Malik, an Olympic bronze medalist, gained significant public support over the course of several weeks. The demonstrations grew from a few dozen participants to crowds numbering in the thousands.”
“Prominent Olympic gold medalists, including javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and rifle shooter Abhinav Bindra, expressed solidarity with their fellow athletes.”
“In May, the protesters made an attempt to march towards India’s new parliament during its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, they were forcibly removed and detained by the police.”
“At one point, Malik and Phogat even threatened to throw their international medals into the Ganges River if the authorities failed to take action.”
“The Supreme Court of India had intervened and requested an explanation from the authorities regarding the slow progress in addressing the allegations against Singh. Consequently, an investigation was initiated.”
“The wrestlers decided to temporarily halt their sit-in after the government promised to investigate the claims of sexual harassment and set a Thursday deadline to respond to the demands of the protesters. The government also pledged to hold new elections for the WFI and prohibit Singh and his family members from participating in the elections.”