Wrestlers Allege Tampering and Inadequate Recording in Sexual Harassment Probe against Wrestling Federation Chief
In recent developments, two first information reports (FIRs) were filed at a police station in Delhi on April 28. These FIRs were submitted weeks after protests by India’s top wrestlers against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). Wrestlers who appeared before a sports ministry panel to provide testimony regarding charges of sexual harassment raised concerns that their statements might not have been accurately recorded or could have been tampered with to favor the accused, as stated in the FIRs filed against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker.
One of the wrestlers who testified before the sports ministry oversight committee stated in her complaint, “During my deposition, I observed that the device on which the recording was being done was being switched on and off again and again.” She further expressed her apprehension that her entire statement might not have been properly recorded or could have been tampered with to exonerate the accused. These serious allegations have led to the filing of the two FIRs against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
The first FIR was registered under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, filed by the father of a 17-year-old girl. The second wrestler alleged that the video recording was abruptly stopped despite the proceedings being ongoing. In her complaint, she expressed her fear that her statement might not have been fully recorded and could have been tampered with to protect the accused. These concerns cast doubt on the integrity of the inquiry.
Another wrestler raised “serious doubts” about the conduct of the inquiry, stating, “My statement on video may not have been recorded in its entirety or might have been altered in an attempt to protect the accused.” She also highlighted that her request for a copy of the video recording was denied by the oversight committee, further suggesting a lack of transparency and a potential agenda to shield the accused. The wrestlers firmly believed that the committee, chaired by legendary boxer MC Mary Kom, Chairperson of the IOA Athletes Commission, was not acting impartially.
The oversight committee, which also included Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, former badminton international Trupti Murgunde, former SAI Executive Director (Teams) Radhica Sreeman, and former CEO of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) Rajesh Rajagopalan, submitted its report to the sports ministry in early April. Subsequently, the report was handed over to the Delhi Police.
However, Radhica Sreeman, the former SAI administrator, refuted the allegations, asserting that the inquiry was conducted fairly and transparently. She clarified that the camera was only turned off during breaks for tea or lunch and was never turned off during the proceedings themselves. Sreeman stated, “Everything was being recorded and submitted to the sports ministry. When the complainants mentioned that outsiders were present during tea or food breaks, we ensured that tea was served beforehand. If anyone required water or tea, we closed the camera for five minutes and then restarted the proceedings.”
Sreeman further emphasized that the committee followed all due processes while recording the complainants’ statements, firmly denying any misconduct. Despite these claims, the allegations made by the wrestlers highlight the need for a thorough investigation to ensure the integrity of the inquiry.
The case raises significant concerns regarding the handling of sexual harassment complaints and the transparency of the investigation process. It is imperative that the authorities thoroughly examine the allegations of tampering and inadequate recording to maintain the credibility of the inquiry. The wrestlers, who showed great courage in coming forward to share their experiences, deserve a fair and impartial investigation, ensuring that their statements
The outcome of this case will not only impact the Wrestling Federation of India but also set a precedent for how such sensitive cases are handled in the future. It is crucial that the investigation proceeds with integrity and transparency, instilling trust and confidence in the victims and the public at large. The allegations made by the wrestlers must be thoroughly addressed, and appropriate action should be taken against anyone found responsible for any wrongdoing or manipulation of the inquiry process.
In conclusion, the filing of FIRs by the wrestlers against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the chief of the Wrestling Federation of India, highlights serious concerns of tampering and inadequate recording in the sexual harassment probe. The wrestlers fear that their statements may not have been accurately recorded or could have been tampered with to favor the accused. A fair and transparent investigation is necessary to address these allegations, ensure justice for the victims, and restore confidence in the inquiry process.