Police, committee under pressure but will keep fighting till we get justice: Bajrang Punia

- April 25, 2023
| By : Khurram Habib |

In an interview with the Patriot, Bajrang talks about how Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has been given more importance than wrestlers who have suffered under him and how Delhi Police and Oversight Committee are under pressure

Jakarta: India's Bajrang Punia poses with his gold medal after winning in the Finals of men's freestyle wrestling (65kg) against Japan's Daichi Takatani at the Asian Games 2018, in Jakarta on Sunday, August 19, 2018. (PTI Photo/Shahbaz Khan) (PTI8_19_2018_000227B)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a petition filed by wrestlers intending to file First Information Report (FIR) against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over allegations of sexual harassment of female wrestlers. The hearing will take place on Friday (April 28).

“There are serious allegations at the behest of professional wrestlers concerning sexual harassment. Issue notice returnable on Friday,” a Supreme Court bench stated.

The wrestlers, including Olympic and World Championships medallist Bajrang Punia, Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik, World Championships and Asian Games medallist Vinesh and Bajrang’s international wrestler wife Sangita have been sitting in protest since Sunday.

According to Vinesh, the wrestlers had filed a complaint at the Connaught Place police station but the police failed to register an FIR.

Sakshi Malik in white T-shirt with colourful patches left of Bajrang.

On the sidelines of ongoing protest, Patriot caught up with Bajrang Punia and asked him about the matter. Excerpts from the interview.

Q: How much hope do you derive from Supreme Court’s notice?

A: We have full faith in the judiciary and hope that we will get justice. We are sitting here for justice. We are happy that Supreme Court has taken cognisance of the matter.

Q: Do you think SC issuing notice is a big win?

A: See, we have come here to demand justice. We are not doing any politics and we are not involved in any politics. But the fact is that when we call spade a spade, there are very few people who listen to us or stand by us. That is why it is taking so much time. The dictator (Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh), his words are being given so much importance and weightage. Wrestlers are protesting here, giving dharna, nobody is paying attention to it. Girls are coming forward with complaints. No one is believing them. I feel somewhere the police authorities are under pressure and the Oversight Committee [formed by the Sports Ministry after January protests to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against WFI president] is also under pressure. The Sports Ministry will be able to tell you about this better.

Q: You faced difficulties during the protest like electricity was cut on Tuesday…

A: We come from very humble families. It is not like we were born in air-conditioned homes. We train from morning till evening, work very hard. We will sit in protest even in higher temperature, this is nothing. We cannot back out due to such minor difficulties. We have come to find solution for the problem. If we do not want to face further troubles, we have to keep fighting until we find a solution. This is not a big problem. It is not like we will leave if they cut electricity. On the first day, we slept under open skies amid mosquitoes. We did not have anything to cover us, nor did we have anything under us to sleep on.

Q: There are lesser number of wrestlers now than they were before. Why is that? Is this part of a plan?

Vinesh (in fluorescent green) and Sangita Phogat (in pink t shirt)

A: Since there are Asian Games and Olympic qualifiers after two months, many wrestlers are preparing and we don’t want to disturb them. The girls who have given statement [against the WFI], we haven’t even allowed them to come forward. Because, there people [who we are fighting against] roaming around [in search of these girls]. Among those sitting up in authority, there are very few people who want to get associated with the truth. All these people who are sitting in wrestling body, nobody wants to support the truth. They are all pawns. Very few people in authority want to listen to this just cause. They take support of lies. But there are many wrestlers supporting us. Just now, 50-60 kids had come and got picture clicked with us. The fact is that we don’t want to put the young wrestlers forward, because we don’t want to hurt their training.