"I have only felt a deep sense of humiliation"
Commonwealth champion Vinesh Phogat has criticised the pace of a police inquiry into sexual harassment allegations against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
She added that she has also been hurt by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the issue.
Phogat is one of seven female athletes to have filed a police case against Singh, accusing him of sexually harassing them.
Singh has denied the allegations.
Phogat said: “I have only felt a deep sense of humiliation since I mustered the courage to protest.”
Delhi Police have filed two cases against Singh, including one under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
Vinesh Phogat claimed that during training camps and tournaments, Singh would use “every possible way to single out young athletes and grope them repeatedly”.
She continued: “It was the same disgusting pattern over and over again and I am among the victims.”
In her complaint, Phogat said she contemplated suicide after the “mental trauma”. She felt reinvigorated after a 2021 meeting with Narendra Modi, who promised to look into the complaints by the female wrestlers.
But two years later, she has not heard anything from the PM.
Phogat said: “It’s been emotionally draining, the PM has not said anything about this case.”
She said the alleged victims had also complained to Sports Minister Anurag Thakur in “greater detail”.
“But he (Thakur) was not just interested in listening to my concerns…he was busy on his phone when I was talking to him.”
A lawyer and close aide to Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said the allegations were fake and fabricated by the athletes to tarnish his career.
Phogat explained: “The fact that no one was listening to us forced me and others to start a public protest as we wanted the nation to know how top athletes were being mistreated.”
The wrestlers began protesting in January 2023 but stopped after Singh was stripped of all administrative power at the WFI.
The protest resumed on April 23, but several wrestlers were briefly detained and the protest site was forcibly cleared on May 28, sparking criticism.
The wrestlers also threatened to throw their medals into the Ganges before agreeing to meet with Home Minister Amit Shah and later with the sports minister.
Anurag Thakur said the police would complete their investigation by June 15 and asked the wrestlers not to demonstrate until then.
Vinesh Phogat continued: “We wanted Singh to be dragged out of his home, but because he is a powerful man he is roaming around and we are being told to sit at home.”
Singh is scheduled to hold a public rally in his political constituency on Sunday.
The International Olympic Committee has condemned the detainment of the wrestlers and criticised the “lack of results” in the investigation.