WFI sexual harassment case: Anurag Thakur says justice will be delivered, but after following 'due process'

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 Anurag Thakur says justice will be delivered, but after following 'due process'

Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur speaks at a press conference on Cabinet decisions in New Delhi on 31 May. PTI

Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Friday insisted the due process be followed by delivering justice in the sexual harassment case involving Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Thakur’s comments came days after the country’s top wrestlers, including Olympic medallists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia and world championships medallist Vinesh Phogat, took their ongoing protest to the holy city of Haridwar in Uttarakhand, where they threatened to immerse their medals in the Ganga river if justice was not delivered in the high-profile case.

Read | 1983 World Cup team ‘disturbed’ and ‘distressed’ with wrestlers being ‘manhandled’

It also follows the farmer leaders giving an ultimatum to the ruling Narendra Modi-led central government to arrest WFI chief Brij Bhushan, who has been accused of sexually harassing multiple female athletes including a minor, by 9 June.

“The government favours an unbiased investigation…. All of us want justice to be delivered, but it will happen after following the due process,” Thakur said in an interactive session at the India Economic Conclave organised by the Times Network.

Read | Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh accuses wrestlers for not sticking to demands

The minister said the Delhi Police is investigating the case, which was filed after a government-appointed committee submitted a report on the allegations against Singh, who is also a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Kaiserganj.

“There is no question of bias,” Thakur said to suggestions that the delay in action was because Singh was a Lok Sabha member of the ruling party at the Centre.

The minister said the Delhi Police is expected to file a chargesheet in the matter soon.

“All of us are in favour of a speedy investigation,” he added.

Thakur said the government had agreed to every demand of the wrestlers, set up a panel to probe the charges levelled by them against Singh and asked the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to appoint a committee of administrators to run the affairs of the WFI.

Read | Wrestlers’ protest puts the spotlight on rampant sexual abuse in Indian sport

“Be it an athlete or a woman, if any atrocity has been committed, they should get speedy justice,” he said, adding that the incidents the wrestlers have referred to had taken place seven years ago.

Thakur said the wrestlers were told that an FIR could be filed at any police station, but they wanted the intervention of the government.

Read | ‘Treatment of Indian wrestlers very disturbing,’ says IOC

The wrestler’s protests against the WFI have been going on for more than a month now. The grapplers had initially staged a sit-in protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar in January, but called it off after a meeting with Thakur, who announced the formation of an oversight committee to investigate the matter and submit a report within four weeks.

The wrestlers however, returned to Jantar Mantar on 23 April, claiming their cries for justice had fallen on deaf ears and after approaching the Supreme Court, managed to get two First Information Reports (FIR) registered against Singh with the Delhi Police.

With inputs from PTI

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