Wrestling Protesters Assaulted by Drunk Delhi Police

India's top wrestlers are staging an unprecedented protest against the all-powerful Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

India's top wrestlers are protesting against the all-powerful Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. Singh is also a BJP Lok Sabha MP.  The protest at Jantar Mantar, Delhi started on 18th January 2023 when the wrestlers levelled allegations of sexual harassment against Singh. 

Brij Bhushan Singh is accused of sexually assaulting female wrestlers at different places from 2012 to 2022

ISH News had released a video about it. You can watch it here on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clXpkhbzN50


However, the wrestlers resumed their protest on 23rd April 2023. Let us see what happened between January and April and why they are protesting again. After the wrestlers protested in January 2023, the Sports Ministry sought an explanation from the WFI and gave it 72 hours to respond. Wrestler Babita Phogat met the wrestlers and said she will speak to the government. Top wrestlers like Ravi Dahiya, Deepak Punia and others from Haryana and Delhi also come out in support.  The wrestlers then wrote a complaint letter to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President PT Usha demanding Singh’s resignation, formation of an inquiry committee, dissolution of WFI committee and appointing a new committee to run WFI. IOA constituted a seven-member panel which included world champions from various sports to inquire into the allegations. 

Wrestlers called off the protest after the Sports Minister said an Oversight Committee will be formed to probe the allegations and Singh will step aside till the probe is completed. 


Meanwhile, the WFI submitted it response to Ministry, and denied all allegations of sexual harassment of women wrestlers by President Singh and coaches. The Sports Ministry asked WFI to suspend all ongoing activities immediately and scheduled an emergency AGM meeting of WFI. The ministry also suspended Assistant Secretary of WFI, Vinod Tomar. The Sports Ministry made a five-member Oversight Committee (OC) and Mary Kom was the head of the committee. The committee was given four weeks to complete the probe. 


Protesting wrestlers complained they were not consulted on the names of the panel members. So, then Babita Phogat was included in the Oversight Committee as the sixth member. The OC was given 2 more weeks to submit the report. They then submitted the report but the ministry did not make the report public. In April 2023, WFI announced that its election would be held on 7th May. However, the wrestlers returned to the protest site at Jantar Mantar. They say seven female wrestlers, including a minor, filed a sexual harassment complaint against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh at CP police station but police did not registered FIR. They demand police register an FIR against Singh and ask the Ministry to make public the report of the Oversight Committee. Wrestlers moved the Supreme Court seeking registration of FIR against Singh. Delhi Police informed the Supreme Court it will register an FIR against Singh and provide protection to the complainant. Wrestlers say they will continue their protest against the WFI chief until he is sent behind bars.


Meanwhile when asked about the accusation, Brij Bhushan lost his cool on camera and asked, "Earlier, they were saying that I had sexually abused 100 children. Then they started saying that it happened to 1,000 children. Did I eat roti made of Shilajit?” You don't get justice from Jantar Mantar. If you want justice, you have to go to the police and court. They never did that until now.He also asked why they were silent for the last 12 years. He did not accept the accusation and said he is ready to face any investigation and ready to cooperate with everything. He has full faith in the judiciary. Several leaders from Congress and other political parties have come out in support of the athletes. Those who harass women should be hanged," Arvind Kejriwal said after meeting with the protesters. 


A lot of famous sports personalities like Neeraj Chopra (javelin), Bhaichung Bhutia (football), Sania Mirza (tennis), Kapil Dev (cricket), etc have also shown support to the wrestlers through their tweets. The Wrestlers protesting at Delhi's Jantar Mantar have alleged that they were manhandled by drunk policemen late 3rd May night when they wanted to bring in folding beds to the protest site. Several wrestlers were hit on the head with two sustaining injuries. One person fell unconscious and had to be taken to a hospital for treatment. According to the police, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Somnath Bharti reached the protest site with folding beds without permission. When the police intervened, a minor altercation broke out following which the AAP leader and two others were detained. A drunk policeman, Dharemendra, abused Vinesh Phogat and her younger brother Dushyant Phogat's head "was cracked open". Vinesh Phogat broke down and said they were not criminals to be treated in such a manner. "If you want to kill us, then kill us," Ms Phogat said crying. Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia, said, "I request the government that it take back all the medals I have won." 

Following the clash, heavy police force has been deployed at the protest site and the whole area has been barricaded, not allowing media personnel to reach the protesting wrestlers. Former wrestler and father of the Phogat sisters - Mahavir Phogat said the protesters would appreciate words of support from actor Aamir Khan. Aamir played Mahavir Phogat in the global hit film Dangal which was based on his family.