Ex-WFI chief, BJP member informed of sexual harassment charges by Delhi court

Ex-WFI chief, BJP member informed of sexual harassment charges by Delhi court

In a significant development, a Delhi court on Friday informed Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the former chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and a prominent member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), of the charges leveled against him. Singh faces charges of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation stemming from complaints filed by several female wrestlers.

The allegations against Singh surfaced last year when multiple Indian wrestlers came forward demanding criminal action against him. These wrestlers, including Olympic medalists, accused Singh of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior. Singh, a influential lawmaker from the BJP, has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

After the court order, Singh stated, "I welcome the decision of the judiciary, and now doors have opened for me... We will face this." Local media reports indicate that the Delhi judge found "sufficient material on record" to frame charges of sexual harassment against Singh, involving five female wrestlers, as well as charges of outraging their modesty.

Singh has been out on bail for nearly a year since police filed charges against him in June 2023, following a sit-in protest by some of India's top wrestlers demanding his resignation and arrest.

Olympic medalist Bajrang Punia, who had returned one of India's highest civilian awards last year to protest the handling of the issue, hailed Friday's court decision as a "big victory for the struggle of women wrestlers." Sakshi Malik, a 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medalist, expressed relief, stating, "We had to sleep on the streets for many nights in the heat and rain, had to give up our good careers, only then have we been able to take a few steps forward in the fight for justice." Malik had quit the sport last year after the wrestling federation elected a new president backed by Singh.

Despite the serious charges against him, Singh's son was fielded as a BJP candidate in his father's seat during India's recent general election. Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh had previously won the Kaiserganj seat in Uttar Pradesh state six times.

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