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Wrestlers brave tough weather conditions; Sidhu demands custodial interrogation

Source: PTI
May 01, 2023 21:23 IST
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IMAGE: Former Indian cricketer and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu demanded custodial interrogation of WFI President. Photograph: PTI

Persistent drizzle disrupted the wrestlers' protest on Monday and caused a bit of chaos even as more support poured in for the athletes with former India cricketer and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu demanding "custodial interrogation" of WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

The supporters, largely farmers and khap members, jostled for space to save themselves from rain in the afternoon. The mattresses were quickly removed from the road and put in a corner inside the makeshift shed that was covered with multiple waterproof tarpaulin sheets.

The elderly moved inside the shed and, in the chaos, a big fan fell on one of them.

The determined wrestlers said they won't leave the protest site and will brave the weather conditions.

"We will not move from here. We will continue to sleep here even if it means sleeping on wet mattresses. We are not going to leave," Bajrang Punia told PTI.

"The weather is going to be like this for the next two days but we are ready to face these obstacles."

The Delhi Police is yet to record the statements of the victims, who have levelled allegation of sexual harassment against Brij Bhushan, officials said.


Police are likely to question Brij Bhushan in connection with the FIRs, though no official notice has been served on him as yet.

Sidhu spent more than two hours at the site and was seen having an animated discussion with Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik.

Later in his address, Sidhu asked why Brij Bhushan had not been arrested as yet despite a case being registered against him under the POCSO Act.

Sidhu joined Congress party's Priyanka Gandhi and Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary, former Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Singh Rawat and Delhi government ministers Atishi Singh and Saurabh Bhardwaj to have visited Jantar Mantar, where the wrestlers have been protesting for the last eight days.

Sidhu questioned the police for delaying the filing of FIR against Brij Bhushan.

"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," Sidhu said.

"He should first be arrested and it should be a custodial interrogation. He should resign so that a fair probe can be conducted," said the 59-year-old.

He also questioned the "motive" behind protecting Brij Bhushan.

"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 cognizable offence as per Lalita Kumari vs Govt.of UP judgement of The Hon'ble Supreme Court?"

The first FIR against Brij Bhushan pertains to allegations levelled by a minor, which has been registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act along with relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code concerning outraging modesty.

The second FIR has been registered for carrying out comprehensive investigations into the complaints by adult complainants under relevant IPC sections pertaining to outraging of modesty.

"Cases registered under POCSO Act are non-bailable... why no arrest so far? Is the law different for the high and mighty?" questioned Sidhu.

"Why does the man in question continue to be in the position of influence and dominance, which can make and break anyone's career?"

Sidhu said that with Brij Bhushan holding the top WFI post, a fair investigation was out of the question.

"With him at the helm of affairs, a fair investigation is impossible. The nation understands that committee formations are merely delay and deflect. The only way forward to a meaningful investigation and to uncover the truth is 'Custodial Interrogation', without it a fair investigation is meaningless.

"The fight is for the honour, integrity and dignity of every women," added Sidhu.

After Sidhu left, DMK's Rajya Sabha MP M. Mohamed Abdulla met with the wrestlers.

"Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin has sent me here with a message that we support the wresters," he said.

Abdulla spent about 20 minutes with the wresters.

Meanwhile, there were murmurs that if the authorities do not help the wresters and Brij Bhushan is not punished, farmer leaders together with khap leaders will block the Delhi borders.   

"The wrestlers have not yet thought about it but individually if someone else is saying, I am not aware," said Bajrang.

In Gonda, Brij Bhushan said he is ready to be "hanged" but wrestling activity, including National championships and camps, should not stop as it would be detrimental to the cadet and junior wrestlers.

"All wrestling activity has come to a standstill in the last four months. I say hang me, but don't stop wrestling activity; don't play with the future of children. Allow the cadet Nationals to take place, whosoever organises it... be it Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, or the government but don't stop the (wrestling) activity," he said.

"A child who is 14 years and nine months old now, he will be 15-plus in three months' time. An opportunity to compete (in the nationals) will go waste if he turns 15. They (IOA, protesting wrestlers, government) should understand this point seriously.

Brij Bhushan had, in an interview to PTI, said that he will not contest for the president's post but hinted that he might look for a new role within the federation.

He has already served as WFI president for 12 years, with three terms of four years. He is ineligible to apply for the post again under the Sports Code.

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