Wrestlers' Protest: "Thought we had handed over the federation's president post to a monster," he said.
Wrestling Federation of India President and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh in March last year grabbed a woman wrestler "in a place one shouldn't touch a woman", Jagbir Singh, an international wrestling referee who was present at the event in Lucknow, told NDTV. The Delhi Police, which recorded the statements of more than 200 people following allegations of sexual harassment against Mr Singh, recorded the statement of Jagbir Singh on May 20, 2023, in Patiala.
One of the seven women wrestlers on whose complaint First Information Reports, or FIRs, were filed at Delhi's Connaught Place police station last month, has accused Braj Bhushan Singh of molesting her during the photo session after the conclusion of the trial of the Asia Championship (Senior) in Lucknow on March 25, 2022.
The athletes had gathered on the stage for a customary photograph with the federation chief and the head coach when the woman wrestler "suddenly felt a hand on her buttock" which she alleged in the FIR was "highly indecent and objectionable and without her consent". The international referee confirmed he saw Brij Bhushan Singh doing it, after which he said she flinched and walked away angrily, saying she doesn't want the photo to be taken there.
The wrestler, in her complaint, has said she was forcibly held by her shoulder when she tried moving away after being molested.
"All of us were huddling for the picture, so everyone noticed this (the woman recoiling and walking away)," Jagbir Singh said.
The Delhi Police questioned Jagbir Singh only about the Lucknow incident, but in a conversation with NDTV, he made serious allegations against Brij Bhushan Singh regarding another alleged incident of 2013 when he said the federation chief's "horrifying side" was revealed.
During the dinner program of a competition held in Thailand's Phuket, Mr Singh had molested women players in a drunken state, he said. "His barbarity was unbearable," he added.
"Brij Bhushan Singh and his associates got very drunk and started touching women wrestlers inappropriately, forcefully hugging them, and offering them training gear," Jagbir Singh said.
Some women even left the dinner and went away, he further alleged.
"We then thought we had handed over the federation's president post to a monster," he said.
On why he remained silent for so long, he said, "when the protector himself becomes the assaulter, there's nowhere to go". He said the women, and all others, feared for their careers as Mr Singh was the top boss and had a massive influence.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh allegedly groped women athletes, asked inappropriate personal questions, demanded sexual favours to back their careers, brushed his hands across a minor's breast and stalked her, two FIRs against him say. Mr Singh is also accused of creating problems for, and denying professional opportunities to, those who rejected his alleged sexual advances.
The "minor" wrestler was not underage at the time of the event and has recorder a fresh statement in court. In an interview with NDTV, her father said she had changed the age-related bit in her statement. Her complaint of sexual harassment remains as it was.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has earlier denied all allegations of sexual misconduct, and even issued a defiant statement refuting all charges.
"If a single allegation against me is proven, I will hang myself. If you (wrestlers) have any evidence, present it to the Court, and I am ready to accept any punishment," he said.