Brij Bhushan denied permission for Ayodhya rally, 2 FIRs filed against WFI chief for sexual harassment

Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh speaks with the media regarding recent allegations of sexual harassment against him, in Gonda district, Friday, Jan 20, 2023. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: The authorities have denied permission to BJP MP and former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh's saints' meet in Ayodhya on June 5.

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is accused of sexually harassing women wrestlers, posted on social media that the rally in Ayodhya in his support had been "postponed for a few days while the police are investigating the charges" against him.

Sources in the Ayodhya administration said the BJP MP did not seek permission for the rally.

Instead, the request from a group of seers to hold a meeting was 'being considered' when Brij Bhushan made the announcement on social media.

A senior official said that since Section 144 was already in place in Ayodhya, the rally could not be allowed.

The proposed rally was widely perceived as a show of strength by Singh even as his party faces growing pressure to sack him.

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh had previously announced that he would address the rally on Monday "with the blessings of Sadhus".

Wrestler Vinesh Phogat
Wrestler Vinesh Phogat speaks during a 'dharna' to protest against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. Photo: PTI Photo/Ravi Choudhary

Minor wrestler harassed by WFI chief: FIR

In the two FIRs, Singh has been accused of touching women athletes inappropriately on the pretext of checking their breath, groping them, asking inappropriate personal questions, and demanding sexual favours.

An FIR registered by the Delhi Police has stated that a minor wrestler was sexually harassed by WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh multiple times. The FIR gives the details of the harassment allegations.

"Sir, mein apne bal-boote par yaha tak aayi hu, aage bhi mehnat karke aage tak jaugi (I have come this far with my hard work and determination, and I will continue to strive forward)," said the 17-year-old wrestler in her complaint against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who she said was holding her tightly while pretending to get a picture clicked.

The girl said, as per the FIR, that "he squeezed her towards himself and pressed really hard on her shoulder and then deliberately slid his hand down her shoulder and brushed his hands against her breasts, saying 'Tu mere ko support kar, mei tere ko support karuga, mere saath touch mein rahna (you support me, I will support you, you remain in touch with me)".

As per the FIR filed by the minor's father, the episode occurred in 2022, when she was 16 years old, she participated in the Sub Junior Wrestling Championship in the National Games.

The FIR further mentioned that after the minor strongly opposed Singh, he told her that the trials for the Asian Championship were soon to be held and since she was not cooperating with him, she will have to bear the repercussions in the upcoming trials.

"The accused also called my daughter to his room. My daughter was under pressure of getting her career ruined at the behest of the accused, and visited him in the room. The accused pulled my daughter towards himself and tried making forceful physical contact with her. My daughter being stunned and shell-shocked immediately freed herself from the clutches of the accused and ran outside the room," said the FIR.

Proving their point against Singh, the complainant further stated that in May 2022, trials for the Asian Championship were being held where Singh discriminated with the minor wrestler.

"It is general practice in the trials that whichever athlete wins a gold medal in the previous bout or national championship held earlier, the said athlete is given a preference in the trials, however, let alone giving my daughter preference, all strong contenders/athletes in her weight category were made part of the same group in which she was also a member.

"The said trial was totally contrary to the prevailing practice wherein the strong athletes are always put in different groups so that they have a better chance of securing a place in the trial so that India can then be represented by the strongest athletes of the lot," the FIR said.

"Furthermore, during my daughter's trial, a violation of the established norms occurred. It was stated that the referee or the Mat Chairman should not belong to the same state as the participating athlete. However, in her case, she was pitted against an athlete from Delhi, and both the referees presiding over the bout and the Mat Chairman were from Delhi, which contradicted the prescribed guidelines," said the FIR.

"Upon noticing this discriminatory practice, my daughter immediately raised objections. However, she was given an ultimatum that she either had to proceed with the match or the opposing athlete would be granted a walkover victory," according to the FIR.

During her trial, she was subjected to deliberate point deductions by the referee and the Mat Chairman. Whenever she scored a point, they would assert that the clock had already stopped, denying her the entitlement to the point, even though this was not the case, the FIR stated.

"The matches conducted during the trials were supposed to be recorded, yet during her trial, the recording was manipulated by repeatedly switching it on and off. These actions were carried out under the direction and instruction of the accused, as my daughter had rejected his unwelcome sexual advances," the complainant claimed in the FIR.

"When my daughter was practising in the Lucknow trials, the accused again approached my daughter and told her 'personally aakar milna (meet me personally)'. She clearly told the accused that she had already told him that she was not interested in having any sort of physical relationship and that he should stop stalking her and desist from making such remarks which had sexual overtones and were made in an indecent manner," the FIR further stated.

The FIR has been registered against Singh at the Connaught Place police station under IPC sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), 354D (stalking) and 34 (common intention). He has also been booked under the Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

(With IANS inputs.)

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