The Unfortunate Reality of Women Wrestlers Protestors Against Sexual Harassment

Best Criminal Lawyer Delhi > Crime  > The Unfortunate Reality of Women Wrestlers Protestors Against Sexual Harassment

The Unfortunate Reality of Women Wrestlers Protestors Against Sexual Harassment

The female wrestlers’ protest against sexual harassment by the WFI [Wrestling Federation of India] president and coaches started on 18th January 2023 but concluded after 3-days lengthy discussion with Anurag Thakur, Union Sports Minister. Anurag Thakur assured that the OC [oversight committee] of 5-members supervised by gold medalist female boxer Mary Kom would evaluate the allegations.

All the ongoing activities at WFI were immediately suspended by the Sports Ministry including Gonda’s ranking tournament. WFI submitted a response to the Ministry denying the sexual harassment allegations from women wrestlers by their president and coaches. According to their response, there have been no reports or complaints filed with the WFI hence the accusations are unfounded and malicious without any truth.

In reality, Mr Brij Bhushan Singh is a powerful politician and BJP MP, who has been elected WFI president three consecutive times. He has rebuffed the allegations and called the wrestler’s protest a politically motivated scheme. The Delhi Police has questioned him, but they had not taken steps to arrest him.


So after three months, several wrestlers filed an FIR but were not registered, which ignited the wrath. So, top women wrestlers, including Sangeeta Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and Sakshi Malik at Jantar Mantar in Delhi demanded FIR registration and action against the accused WFI president and powerful political Brij Bhushan Singh. They even asked the Sports Ministry to share the Oversight Committee findings with the public.

The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) heard about the non-registration of the FIR and released an injunction to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) regarding their department’s failure to arrest Brij Bhushan Singh. The wrestlers have been protesting since April 23, and the protest has garnered significant attention and support from the media and public.


18th Jan 2023 – Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat started a protest at Jantar Mantar against WFI and even its president Brij Bhushan.

Bajrang Punia said to the reporters, ‘Our fight is against WFI and not the SAI {Sports Authority of India] or the Government. Yeh ab aar paar ki ladai hai’.

Vinesh shared sexual harassment allegations against Brij Bhushab and even the coaches that behaved inappropriately with women wrestlers even minors. During their first sit-down with the sports ministry, Vinesh agreed to share the names of a minimum of 10 girls, who were molested and sexually harassed in National Camps. Everyone is afraid, so they don’t come forward.

19th Jan 2023 – When the angry grapplers stipulated WFI disbandment and a need for a fresh federation current BJP leader and former wrestler Babita Phogat was given the role of mediator between the Government and the protesters. Even political parties jumped on board adding dogmatic zest to the situation.

20th Jan 2023 – The wrestlers had a lengthy meeting with Anurag Thakur, which was inconclusive. Even when the sports minister assured the protesters refused to end their protests. Ultimately, an Oversight Committee was appointed to probe the allegations.

21st Jan 2023 – After an assurance from the Sports Ministry department the protest at Jantar Mantar was called off. Vinod Tomar, the Assistant Secretary at WFI was suspended because he claimed that allegations against the president were groundless.

Between 22nd Jan to 22nd April – Federation ongoing activities were suspended, Oversight Committee was broadcasted, Babita Phogat joined the OC, OC report got delayed, top wrestlers pulled their names from international events, Brij Bhushan stood before the OC and negated the allegations, and there were lots of accusations and heated charges flung around on the social media.


The Oversight Committee appointed by the Sports Ministry included –

  1. Mary Kom [Gold medalist boxer]
  2. Yogeshwar Dutt [Bronze medalist grappler]
  3. Trupti Murgunde [ Badminton Player]
  4. Cp. Rajgopalan [CEO of TOPS]
  5. Radhika Sreeman [Executive Director of SAI]

After a complaint from the wrestlers about not being consulted on the panel member’s name, the Ministry included Babita Phogat as the 6th member. The tenure of the OC was initially 4 weeks and it was given the responsibility to administer WFI. However, OC’s term stretched by 2 weeks.

According to the OC probe report, there is an absence of an internal complaint committee as per ‘The Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act’. The sports ministry says that this is a major finding and it even declared the election process at WFI ‘null & void’.

Unfortunately, the report findings are not made public but it is alleged that accused Brij Bhushan was given a clean chit. The OC probe was alleged to be unfair and non-transparent as the video recordings were switched off when the litigants were asked for sexual harassment incident proof here

Protests & incidents 

23rd April 2023 – The top wrestlers restart their demonstrations after three months of waiting without any action. It was triggered after several female wrestlers filed FIR complaints against WFI at CP [Connaught Police] station. The protesters spend a night on the streets and denied to budge away from their position.

24th April 2023 – Seven -female wrestlers had filed sexual harassment complaints at the CP police station against Brij Bhushan Sing but the FIR was not registered by the Delhi Police, so the wrestlers approach the Indian Supreme Court.

The DCW has sent the summons to the Deputy Commissioner of Police because the department had still failed to get Brijbhushan Sharan Singh arrested for investigation. The accusations were of senior nature where the victims have accused the WFI president of abusing his powers to molest the players. One of the complainants is a minor. He has allegedly demanded sexual favors to help them in the sport.

25th April 2023 – The Supreme Court approved a petition hearing about wrestlers seeking FIR registration against Brij Bhushan regarding women wrestlers’ sexual harassment. According to Chief Justice Chandrachud, the allegation is serious and needs consideration in the court.

26th April 2023 – The wrestler protestors continue their protest when they find that authorities are ignoring the FIRs. They urge the Women & Child Development Minister and Prime Minister Modi to intervene.

4th May 2023 – The Supreme Court orders the plea to be filed in the lower court. The protestors lose their faith in Supreme Court and invite the Khap Panchayats.

Cleared wrestlers’ Jantar Mantar protest site

Nothing had been revealed despite the deadline of the wrestler protestor’s case had passed so they sought wide support from Khap Panchayat, Bharatiya Kisan Union, and Rashtriya Lok Dal. Within a month, the protestors experienced lots of ebb and flow situations from politicians, authorities, and the government. From a scuffle between wrestlers and Delhi police to journalist detainment, the protest has moved across diverse stages.

The security measures included assistance from paramilitary troops, 24/7 CCTV monitoring, and layers of barricades. The Delhi police were prepared at the protest site in advance.

On May 28th, as the protestors marched towards New Parliament Bhavan during the inauguration ceremony, there was a scuffle between the Delhi Police and the grapplers. Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phigat, Bajrang Punia and more than 700 protestors were booked for the fight with security personnel stopping them. Women detainees were released in the evening.

The Jantar Mantar venue was cleared after this arrest and was commanded not to return there by the Delhi Police. However, the protest seems to have concluded but for how long no one knows!

Media Coverage

The police even evicted several media personnel from Jantar Mantar. Media was also moved by the top women wrestlers’ protest against sexual harassment, which demanded action against WFI president Brij Bhushan.

The protest was given prominent media coverage in several leading newspapers not just on the sports page but even on their front page. The stories about the resume protest at Jantar Mantar were published on both pages along with strong editorial comments.

Such persistent coverage, where the voices of both men and women are heard as well as the Supreme Court’s intervention like demanding Delhi Police to register an FIR against Brij Bhushan Singh was an embarrassment to the latter.

Media coverage even triggered several questions that needed clarity. The most blatant one was, ‘Were other sportswomen sexually harassed?’ ‘Will women wrestlers protest encourage sportswomen to speak up?’

Indian Express published that their investigation revealed that 16 sports federation out of 30 lacks ICC [Internal Complaint Committee], which is compulsory according to the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act 2013. Even if there is a process set up, it is not appropriate even if there are clear laws on how to arrange these committees.

In India, the life of women in sports needs great focus in the news media because the majority of them don’t have the social assets to challenge powerful men, who are in control of the training camps. Today, women wrestlers have broken the silence and their story needs to be investigated at multiple levels starting from lack of proper ICCs. There have been lots of interviews with top politicians giving controversial statements, which remain unanswered. Government chooses to be silent and even the mainstream media. So, there is a huge question mark about the freedom of media in India.

The impact of delays in OC against the WFI probe was encountered with the Asian Wrestling Championship 2023 moved from New Delhi to Astana, Kazakhstan.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.