Wrestlers protesting at the Jantar Mantar, New Delhi have demanded the arrest of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on charges of sexual harassment against several women. It has been alleged that the WFI is run in a dictatorial way.
Singh, a BJP MP, has strenuously denied the allegations and said he is willing to submit himself to any enquiry committee.
The wrestlers, including Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia, had called off their protest in January after they were assured that an oversight committee would investigate their allegations.
On April 5, the committee led by boxing champion MC Mary Kom turned in its report. Though the committee’s findings have not been made public, according to PTI, Singh has reportedly received a clean chit. Vinesh Phogat has charged the committee with failing to cross-verify the witnesses’ claims.
As of now, the Delhi Police have registered two FIRs against the MP. This comes after the Supreme Court said that the allegations against Singh are “serious”. The wrestlers said that the protest will continue until Singh is put in jail.
What’s despairing is the lack of support received by the wrestlers from the entire sports fraternity. Comments by PT Usha, President, Indian Olympic Association, that the wrestlers have brought disrepute to themselves and the nation through this protest are also dispiriting. Apart from a few notable exceptions — Abhinav Bhindra, Neeraj Chopra, Sania Mirza and ex-cricketers including Kapil Dev, Virendra Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh — the silence from the rest of the sporting community is deafening.
Will the power dynamics continue to make women feel unsafe? It is important to bear in mind the Prime Minister’s words: “We need to ensure that from street to workplace, at every place, women have a sense of security”.