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Huge pressure on us to compromise, will boycott Asian Games: protesting wrestlers

Huge pressure on us to compromise, will boycott Asian Games: protesting wrestlers

New Delhi: After the minor victim among the seven women wrestlers protesting changed her statement, Olympian Sakshee Malikkh said it was under pressure. "There's huge pressure on us to compromise."

Speaking to NDTV, she said WFI President and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, whom the women have accused of sexual harassment, has sent his men to call and threaten the complainants. Bajrang Punia and Sakshee Malikkh said that the minor girl's father is suffering from depression due to the pressure put on him to withdraw the complaint.

In an interview with NDTV, the minor victim's father said she had changed the age-related part in her statement and said that she was not underage at the time of the event. Her complaint of sexual harassment still remains.

Wrestlers have been demanding the accused be arrested but he is free despite Delhi Police filing two FIRs against him. It is unusual to not arrest an accused if the complaint is under the POCSO act which pertains to the sexual harassment of minors.

Protesting wrestlers said they have been demanding the arrest and custodial interrogation of Brij Bhushan since day one because he has the power and influence to derail the investigation and intimidate complainants and witnesses. "An impartial probe can't be conducted without Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh's arrest," said Sakshee.

Elite wrestler Punia said that the entire system is shielding Brij Bhushan and they don't trust the police investigation.

"The 'Mahapanchayat' today decided they would plan future strategy after June 15, the deadline for the investigation given by Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur. We haven't backed down from our demand for his arrest. The police yesterday took a woman wrestler to the Wrestling Federation of India office despite Brij Bhushan Singh being present there. The woman asked if Mr Singh was at the office, the police lied and said he wasn't. She got scared when she got to know he was there. We have risked everything. Brij Bhushan will be arrested if there's a strong chargesheet," he said.

Protesting wrestlers have also threatened to boycott the Asian Games this year if their demands are not met. "We will participate in the Asian Games only when all these issues will be resolved. You can't understand what we're going through mentally each day," said Sakshee.

One of the seven women, in the FIR, said that she was molested during the photo session after the conclusion of the trial of the Asia Championship (Senior) in Lucknow on March 25, 2022. She said the athletes had gathered on the stage for customary photographs with the WFI chief when she "suddenly felt a hand on her buttock". She said it was "highly indecent and objectionable and without her consent".

The international referee confirmed that he saw Brij Bhushan doing it.

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TAGS:wrestler's protest
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