The day I will feel helpless, I would…’: WFI chief Brij Bhushan posts personalised video amid sexual harassment allegations

ANI

New Delhi, April 28

Amid fresh protests and a sit-in by India’s grapplers demanding action against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Singh, who they accused of sexual harassment, the BJP MP on Thursday released a personalised video saying he would wish to embrace death the day he feels helpless.

“Friends, the day I introspect on what I gained or lost, and feel that I no longer have the strength to fight; the day I feel helpless, I would wish death as I won’t be living a life like that. Instead of living such a life, I would wish that death takes me in its embrace,” Brij Bhushan said in the video.

Star Indian wrestlers such as Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia, among many others, are hiding an ongoing protest against the WFI chief, accusing him of sexual harassment and mistreatment of athletes.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha said the wrestlers should have approached the body earlier instead of taking to the streets against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president.

“Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has a committee to deal with complaints of sexual harassment. Instead of taking to the streets, they (the protesting wrestlers) could have come to us earlier. But they did not. This isn’t good for our sports. They should have shown some discipline,” Usha told reporters.

The IOA president’s statement drew the ire of the protesting wrestlers, who called it “insensitive”.

Commonwealth Games gold medalist Sakshi Malik said, “Being a woman athlete, she (PT Usha) is not listening to other women athletes. We have followed her since childhood and were inspired by her. Where is the indiscipline here? We are holding a peaceful protest.” Vinesh Phogat, the CWG and World Championship medalist, echoed the refrain.

Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra supported the wrestlers with a tweet on Wednesday.

“As athletes, we train hard every day to represent our country on the international stage. It is deeply concerning to see our athletes finding it necessary to protest on the streets regarding the allegations of harassment in the Indian wrestling administration,” Bindra tweeted.

“My heart goes out to all those who have been affected. We must ensure that this issue is handled properly, with the athletes’ concerns heard and addressed fairly and independently. This incident highlights the crucial need for a proper safeguarding mechanism that can prevent harassment and ensure justice for those affected. We must work towards creating a safe and secure environment for all athletes to thrive in,” he added.

Over the last four days, the wrestlers have slept and trained at the protest site, near the Jantar Mantar in the national capital.

On Wednesday, the grapplers held a candlelight march at Jantar Mantar against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president. Vinesh Phoghat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik were present in the march.

Speaking to the media, Sakshi Malik said, “We urge PM Modi to listen to our Mann Ki Baat. Even Smriti Irani-ji is not listening to us. We are trying to show them the light through this candlelight march.” The ace wrestler said no FIR has been filed even after they lodged a complaint against the WFI chief on Friday.

“We are now counting on the Supreme Court to give us justice,” said Sakshi.

Delhi Police on Wednesday submitted before the Supreme Court that a preliminary inquiry would be needed before lodging an FIR against WFI president Brij Bhushan Singh over allegations of sexual harassment.

Delhi Police apprised the court that the police felt that there were some issues that needed preliminary inquiry. However, it clarified that it has no hesitation in filing an FIR immediately if the court directs it to do so.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said the matter is scheduled to be heard on Friday and the bench will look at the entire material.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued notice to Delhi Police on the wrestler’s plea seeking an urgent hearing on a petition seeking registration of FIR against WFI president Brij Bhushan.

The court noted that there are serious allegations in the petition by wrestlers who have represented India.

The Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports announced on Monday that the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) will be forming an ad-hoc committee to conduct the elections for the Executive Committee of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) within 45 days of its formation, to manage day-to-day affairs of the body, including the selection of athletes and making entries for the participation of players in international events.

This committee will be functioning for an interim period till a new Executive Committee takes charge.

In light of the protests by some of the country’s most followed and celebrated grapplers earlier in January, the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports had announced the formation of an ‘oversight committee’ to probe allegations against the WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and other coaches.

The committee, headed by Olympian MC Mary Kom, was tasked with probing the charges and submitting a report to the ministry.

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