As the renewed protest by wrestlers against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Chief and BJP Leader Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh entered its third day on Tuesday (April 25), the Supreme Court stepped in, listing the matter for hearing on Friday, April 28. The court also issued notice to Delhi Police on the petition filed by seven women wrestlers seeking the registration of an FIR against Brij Bhushan, who is also the BJP MP from Kaiserganj in UP, for alleged sexual harassment.
Former Kerala Women’s Commission member and BJP State Vice President Dr Prameela Devi told Afternoon Voice, “Many opposition people may make political statements, but the ruling government is working on this issue, and many heinous crimes occurred during the UPA government, so there is nothing political in this.”
UBT Shiv Sena MP Dr Neelam Gorhe told Afternoon Voice that she had previously written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Maharashtra state governor but still did not receive any response from them. “The wrestler women who are protesting are our country’s pride, and sexual harassment in the workplace cannot be tolerated at all.”
“BJP members are protecting WFI president Brij Bhushan Singh in this case,” AAP leader Alka Lamba said. We have always supported wrestlers, even when they did not want political assistance. Now that they do, why haven’t the Delhi Police, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and BJP workers taken action? “People pose for pictures with sportspersons nicely, but they do not understand the issues faced by them on the ground level; instead, they are busy with poll preparation and inaugurations.”
Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Congress leader Udit Raj were among the leaders who visited Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on Tuesday to extend their support to the protesting wrestlers. Seven women wrestlers filed separate police complaints against the MP on April 21, accusing him of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation over a 10-year period from 2012 to 2022. Issuing notice, Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud said on Tuesday that the allegations were “serious.”
However, three wrestlers have been at the forefront of the protest since the beginning in January: Olympic bronze medallists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, and world medalist Vinesh Phogat. At the time of the first round of protests, a number of other wrestlers, including youngsters such as Anshu Malik, Sonam Malik, Ravi Dahiya, and Deepak Punia, had shown support by joining them at Jantar Mantar or by releasing videos.
“This is the time for the nation to stand together and seek justice for female wrestlers in India,” CPM leader Vrinda Karat said. Whoever is responsible should be severely punished.”
In the current round of protests that began on Sunday, however, only Sakshi, Vinesh, and Bajrang—who have together won dozens of international medals for India over the last decade—have been at Jantar Mantar, with the other wrestlers not having shown up as yet.