International referee speaks: ‘I saw Brij Bhushan standing next to her, she freed herself… something wrong happened to her’
Jagbir Singh on incident mentioned in FIR when WFI chief ‘touched’ wrestler’s buttocks
Written by Nihal Koshie
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, Brij Bhushan sexual harassment, Brij Bhushan police complaint, women wrestlers, BJP MP, Wrestling Federation of India, WFI presidentXX
FIR says incident involving Brij Bhushan Singh took place last year
In the FIR filed by six adult wrestlers detailing several incidents of alleged sexual harassment by Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, one complainant said that in March last year, as the team posed for a photo at the end of the trials in Lucknow for the Asian Championships, he “placed his hands on my buttocks” following which she tried to move away.
Jagbir Singh, an international wrestling referee since 2007, who was standing a few feet away from Brij Bhushan and the complainant, has corroborated the wrestler’s allegations in his testimony to the Delhi Police. Speaking to The Indian Express, Jagbir Singh referred to the photo and said that Delhi police had asked him about it.
Jagbir is among the over 125 potential witnesses, across four states, who are part of the police probe that is expected, as per Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur’s statement Wednesday, to be wrapped up June 15.
An Olympian, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, an international referee and a state-level coach have corroborated the allegations of at least three female wrestlers, The Indian Express has reported.
“I saw him (Brij Bhushan) standing next to her. She freed herself, pushed away, mumbled and moved away. She was standing next to the president, but then came to the front. I saw how this woman wrestler was reacting and she was uncomfortable. Uske saath kuchh galat hua (Something wrong happened to her). I didn’t see him doing the act but uske haath pair khoob chalte the, idhar aa ja. Idhar khadi ho ja (He used to keep touching wrestlers saying come here, come and stand here). From her (complainant’s) behaviour, it was clear something was wrong that day (during the photo session),” Jagbir said.
According to the FIR, Singh forcibly held her by the shoulder before she could break free and move to the front row for the photograph.
“Since I was one of the tallest wrestlers, I was supposed to stand in the last row. While I was standing in the last row and waiting for the other wrestlers to take their positions, the accused came and stood alongside me. To my shock and surprise, I suddenly felt a hand on my buttock. I immediately looked back and to my horror, the accused had placed his hands on my buttocks… I immediately tried to move away from that spot in order to protect myself from further inappropriate touching by the accused. However, when I tried moving away, I was forcibly held by my shoulder by the accused. Somehow, I managed to get free from the clutches of the accused. Since I could not have avoided getting the team photograph clicked, I decided to go and sit in the first row away from the accused,” the FIR states.
The FIR adds that the woman wrestler was stunned by Singh’s “highly indecent” and “objectionable” action which was without her consent.
Jagbir is the second witness this paper has spoken to, the other being 2010 CWG gold medallist Anita. Both have corroborated claims made by at least two wrestlers.
Anita said that the complainant had called her from a tournament abroad to “share” the incident where Brij Bhushan had allegedly called her to his room and “forcibly” hugged her. The complainant cried when narrating her ordeal to Anita, after returning to the national camp in Patiala. In her complaint, she has said that she was “traumatised” because of the “forcible hug” on the night of her gold-medal victory.
In the two FIRs filed by Delhi Police, based on complaints of seven woman wrestlers, including a minor, there have been at least two instances of the WFI chief demanding “sexual favours” in lieu of professional assistance; close to 15 incidents of sexual harassment that include 10 episodes of inappropriate touching, molestation that includes running hands over breasts, touching the navel; and several instances of intimidation, including stalking.
On Wednesday, there was a breakthrough in the protracted standoff between the protesting wrestlers and the Government. The wrestlers, Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, who met Thakur, agreed to pause their protest until June 15. This is the date by which the Delhi Police will file a chargesheet, Thakur said.
Courtesy : TIE
Note: This news piece was originally published in theindianexpress.com and used purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Rights