The protest at Jantar Mantar by top Indian wrestlers against the wrestling federation chief's alleged sexual misconduct entered its third day, with opposition political parties expressing their support and the Supreme Court issuing notice to the Delhi Police and setting April 28 as the hearing date.
The apex court responded to the complainants' request seeking an urgent hearing on the petition seeking registration of a police case against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and BJP MP Brijbhushan Sharan Singh.
In response, the Delhi Police told the Supreme Court today that some kind of preliminary probe was needed before it can proceed with the registration of an FIR.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Delhi Police, said that if the top court felt that an FIR was to be lodged straight away then it may be done. “However, the police felt there are some issues which needed preliminary inquiry before the registration of the FIR,” he added.
The court also ordered the redaction of the names of the seven complainant wrestlers from judicial records to protect their identities in the sexual harassment case. However, protesting wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and others claimed that the victims’ families were threatened and offered money to withdraw their complaints.
“They are trying to threaten the minor victim and pressure is being put on the family members to withdraw the complaint. We have learned that one of the people threatening them is a coach who is a Dronacharya-award winner and the other is the secretary of the Haryana Wrestling Association. They went to her house and are putting pressure on the family and also offered money. They want her to take the complaint back. Those women wrestlers who have filed complaints against the WFI president are being threatened too,” Bajrang said at a press conference in Jantar Mantar yesterday.
Earlier, speaking to Connected to India, Punia had said that they were grateful for the outpouring of support they had received from Indians both living both at home and abroad.
“Many wrestlers are on our side as well in our search for justice for the victims. The government and the judiciary both have the power to see that justice is done. We believe in the power of the courts and are seeking legal redress,” he added.
Aam Aadmi Party national spokesperson Reena Gupta met the wrestlers sitting on a protest against the president of Wrestling Federation of India and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and assured them of the party's support.
"We should be appalled as a nation that despite multiple complaints, even an FIR was not registered in the case. Instead, we see proud Olympic medallists having to resort to protests at Jantar Mantar to demand justice," Gupta told the media.
Several Congress politicians like former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Udit Raj and even farmers' organisations expressed their support as well.
CPI(M) Politburo member Brinda Karat yesterday met the agitating wrestlers and said that she fully supported their demands.
Seven women wrestlers had moved the top court alleging non-registration of FIR on their sexual harassment charge.
"There are serious allegations made in the petition by wrestlers who have represented India in international games about sexual harassment meted out to them. The matter requires consideration by this court," a bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud had said.
The wrestlers, protesting at Delhi's Jantar Mantar, had yesterday said that they would remain at the protest site till police file an FIR in the case. The elite athletes had called off their protest in January after assurances from the sports ministry, but are back at it as they claim that no action has been taken yet against the WFI chief.
The Delhi Commission For Women (DCW) has also issued a notice to Delhi Police to register an FIR on the issue.