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25 Jun, 2023 19:46

Protesting Indian wrestlers move the battle from street to courtroom

The president of the wrestling federation, a six-term ruling-party MP, is in the dock for alleged sexual misconduct
Protesting Indian wrestlers move the battle from street to courtroom

A group of Indian wrestlers who have accused the president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexual harassment and sparked a nationwide protest movement, on Sunday announced that, for now, they were moving their street protest to the court.

Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia posted identical tweets that hailed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government for living up to its pledge of filing a charge sheet against Singh, who is a member of Parliament (MP) in the ruling party. The call to suspend the protests came after India’s federal minister for youth and sports affairs, Anurag Thakur, assured the protesting wrestlers that the probe into the allegations against Singh was concluded on June 15 and its findings would be made public soon.

The three wrestlers made a live address on social media to clarify their stand on the ongoing protests and their imminent course of action. “Regarding the reform in WFI, the election process, as promised, has begun. We will wait for the fulfillment of promises made by the government regarding the July 11 elections,” they said, referring to the upcoming WFI elections and sports minister Thakur’s promise that Singh and his family members would not be allowed to participate.

The wrestlers have been camping in the capital New Delhi since April 23 as part of their protest. The case has gained international attention. Earlier this month, Sports and Rights Alliance, a global coalition of non-governmental organizations that promotes human rights in sports, urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ensure a transparent, independent and impartial investigation into the wrestlers’ allegations.

Singh, a six-term MP, has denied any wrongdoing, despite at least seven female wrestlers, including a minor, having accused him of misconduct, including inappropriate touching, molestation and soliciting “sexual favors” in exchange for professional assistance and support.