The Delhi Police on Thursday filed a chargesheet against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has been accused of sexually harassing female wrestlers, NDTV reported.
However, the police recommended cancelling a case in which Singh – a Bharatiya Janata Party MP – has been accused of sexually harassing a minor, saying that there was no “corroborative evidence against him”, reported India Today. The case was filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
The police filed the two first information reports against the Wrestling Federation of India chief after the Supreme Court intervened in the matter.
In the other case registered on the basis of complaints by the wrestlers, the police have filed a chargesheet under Section 354 (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage woman’s modesty), Section 354A (sexual harassment) and 354D (stalking) against Singh.
The Wrestling Federation of India’s assistant secretary Vinod Tomar has also been chargesheeted under provisions pertaining to abetment, criminal intimidation, assault or criminal force with the intent to outrage a woman’s modesty and sexual harassment.
The police said that the cancellation report in the POCSO case was filed on the basis of statements of the minor girl and her father. A Delhi court will hear the matter on July 4.
The minor’s father had recorded another statement after accusing Singh of sexually harassing her daughter. In the new statement, he had said that Singh discriminated against his daughter in matters of wrestling but “did not sexually harass her”.
The father, however, had told The Hindu that he changed his statement “not because of greed but because I was scared... scared for my family, daughter and myself”.
India’s top wrestlers, including Olympic medallists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia as well as two-time World Championship medallist Vinesh Phogat, have been protesting in Delhi since April seeking Singh’s arrest.
On June 7, Union Sports Minister Anurag Singh Thakur had assured the protestors that the investigation against Singh would be completed by June 15 and a chargesheet would be filed. On the basis of his assurance, the wrestlers had suspended their protest for a week.
The BJP MP has maintained that the allegations against him are false. However, details of the FIRs against the politician show that he allegedly demanded sexual favours in exchange for professional help from at least two female wrestlers as well as harassed over half a dozen players.
On May 28, Punia, Malik and Phogat had tried to lead a march towards the new Parliament complex in New Delhi that was being inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the time. However, the wrestlers were manhandled by the Delhi Police and were detained at several police stations for about ten hours.
They were booked by the Delhi Police for rioting and obstructing public servants from discharging their duty. On June 7, Thakur said the cases will be withdrawn.
‘Law of the Land crushed’: Congress
The Congress on Thursday criticised the Centre after the Delhi Police sought to withdraw charges under the POCSO Act against Singh, saying that the “cry for justice” of India’s daughters has been “consigned to the dustbin and buried”.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that the entire apparatus of the BJP government was pressed into service to save Bhushan.
“The real slogan is ‘scare daughters, save Brij Bhushan’,” he said. “...Today, the Law of the Land has crumbled and been crushed under the bulldozer of BJP’s politics.”
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate alleged that out of the 1,000-page chargesheet against Singh, over 500 pages were dedicated to how a clean chit has been given to him and how the whole case under POCSO has been withdrawn.
“The POCSO Act says that the moment the case is filed, the perpetrator of the crime has to be arrested so that he does not tamper with witnesses or intimidate victims,” she said, according to PTI. “Nothing of that sort happened with the BJP MP.”