'Request' to retract wrestler's POCSO charges: a saga of intimidation

The Delhi Police filed a cancellation report on June 15 to request retraction of POCSO charges against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. What do the wrestlers' families think?

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh (Photo courtesy: PTI)
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh (Photo courtesy: PTI)

Kushan Niyogi

The Delhi Police filed a 552-page 'cancellation report' in a Delhi court on Thursday, 15 June, to request the retraction of POCSO charges against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. The police claimed that these charges were being retracted because of a lack of evidence against the Wrestling Federation of India chief.

However, what remains lost, left off the records are the silences that shroud a hidden chronology of events.

To put matters into perspective, on June 8, the minor wrestler had allegedly retracted her statement on Singh committing sexual misconduct, while her father said that the charge was levied with a "desire for revenge". He had told PTI that the allegations were only half-true and had been made in a bout of rage.

More importantly, however, there was a statement the minor’s father had given to The Hindu around the same time. He said that he was constantly living in fear, because a few unnamed persons had been threatening him and his family.

National Herald contacted the minor’s father on the eve of the filing of the chargesheet, to learn the specifics of the threats he had been receiving and ask what part of the allegations were not withdrawn and what was the half-truth. While he named no names, his response was again telling. He said, "If I tell you their names, will you be able to provide me with a guarantee of security that I will not come to harm, and neither will my family?"

Do the names then even matter, when it is clear there is intimidation hanging over the family's head even as charges are being drawn up and then redrawn?

This air of dread has remained almost perennial, a dark cloud hanging over the protests for over half a year now. Sakshi Malik, one of the protesting wrestlers and an Olympian, had earlier claimed that the wrestlers had been threatened while they were filing FIRs against the WFI chief too.

National Herald also reached out to Sudesh Malik, Sakshi Malik’s mother, to learn who had been trying to threaten and pressurise the wrestlers. She too refused to name names, but said that it was "fairly obvious" who has been threatening them.

She said, “If you are smart, then you would know who has been threatening and pressurising the wrestlers. Koi mamuli insaan yeh harqat karta toh woh jail ke peeche hota (If any ordinary citizen would have behaved this way, then they would have been behind bars).”

None of the wrestlers could be reached to corroborate their experience further.

As of now, the Delhi Police has filed a 1,000-page chargesheet charging Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh under Sections 354, 354A and 354D of the Indian Penal Code. The Delhi Police also did not respond to requests for further clarification or comments.

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