Can hang me but don’t stop wrestling activities: Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh

‘Cadet nationals should be allowed to take place, whoever is organising it, either Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Tripura,’ says the WFI chief.

Updated - May 02, 2023 09:44 am IST

Published - May 01, 2023 08:59 pm IST - New Delhi

WFI chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Singh speaks to the media on Wrestlers’ protest, on May 1, 2023.

WFI chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Singh speaks to the media on Wrestlers’ protest, on May 1, 2023. | Photo Credit: ANI

Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said on May 1 that ever since the top wrestlers of the country began protesting, all sports related activities had come to a standstill.

He said that he was ready to be “hanged” but wrestling activities, which include the national championships and camps, should not stop as it would be detrimental to the cadet and junior wrestlers.

Speaking to the media, Mr. Singh said, “Wrestling activities have come to a standstill since the last four months, I say hang me, but don’t stop wrestling activities and don’t play with the children’s future. Cadet nationals should be allowed to take place, whoever is organising it, either Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, but don’t stop the wrestling activities.”

“WFI has no problem if anybody wants to organise the cadet nationals, be it the protesting wrestlers, IOA [Indian Olympic Association] or the government as long as the tournament takes place,” Mr. Singh said, adding that he appealed to them (protesting wrestlers, the IOA and the government) so that cadet nationals, junior nationals and other tournaments could be organised and if not, then the WFI could organise it.

As India’s top wrestlers, Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, among others, continue to protest to demand action against the WFI chief, who is accused of allegedly sexually harassing women, including a minor, they continue to receive support from political parties, whose leaders regularly visit the protest site, Jantar Mantar.

Sidhu seeks criminal action

On May 1, former India cricketer and political leader Navjot Singh Sidhu lent his support to the protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar, demanding criminal action against the WFI chief.

Mr. Sidhu joined the protests after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Congress leaders Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Aam Aadmi Party leaders Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj recently visited the protest site to stand in solidarity with the wrestlers.

Mr. Sidhu asked why Mr. Singh was not being arrested despite a case being registered against him under the “non-bailable POCSO Act”..

“To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice. Why was the FIR delayed? Not making the FIR public reflects that the FIR is mild and not corroborative to the complainant’s complaint,” Mr. Sidhu said in a tweet.

“Intent is questionable and motive is to protect the accused. Are things being swept under the carpet? Why is the officer who delayed the FIR not being tried under Section 166 of IPC as he was duty bound to register an FIR which is mandatory in case of a cognisable offence as per Lalita Kumari vs Govt. of UP judgement of The Hon’ble Supreme Court?” the tweet said.

He further said, “cases registered under POCSO Act are non-bailable... why no arrest so far? Is the law different for the high and mighty,” he asked.

To investigate further, the IOA has instituted a three-member ad hoc panel, including former shooter Suma Shirur, Wushu Association of India chief Bhupendra Singh Bajwa and headed by a yet-to-be-named retired High Court judge, to run the affairs of the WFI until a new body is elected.

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