The Congress on Wednesday accused the government of trying to ”suppress the voices” of female wrestlers who have levelled sexual harassment allegations against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and said it will have to pay a heavy price for ”protecting” the BJP MP as the nation is watching.
The Congress’ attack on the government came after it invited wrestlers protesting against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief for talks on their issues.
Asked about the government’s call for talks, Congress spokesperson Deepender Hooda said, ”Today the Sports Minister (Anurag Thakur) has invited our wrestlers for a talk. We will wait to see what is the outcome of these talks but one thing is very clear as far as the Congress party is concerned, we stand with our daughters in their fight for justice and we are going to be with them till they get justice.” The Congress will stand by the wrestlers in whatever they decide after the talks, Hooda said.
He said the government ought to be ”ashamed” of itself as to how it handled this matter in trying to ”curb the voices of these daughters”. A new chapter in India’s history is being written by this government on how to ”suppress the voice of daughters in their endeavour to get justice”, the Rajya Sabha MP said. ”First when these daughters came out with their complaints there were no takers, not even an FIR was registered. I ask you these were daughters who had brought laurels for the country and what if it was your daughter or sister or mine and the accused was a BJP MP, would an FIR be filed. They ran from pillar to post but no FIR was filed and it was done only after the Supreme Court took it up,” he said. Hooda said even when an FIR was filed, no arrest took place.
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This is perhaps the first instance in which such sections were applied but no arrest was made, he said.
”What kind of example are they setting that if it is a BJP MP, no arrest will be made. This example will be quoted by various police departments to shield powerful criminals. That is the (prevailing) legal environment which the government has vitiated to save one accused in this matter,” Hooda said.
He said the government had broken its own record when the wrestlers went to Haridwar and were going to immerse their medal in the holy Ganga but not one voice came from the government side asking them not to do so. ”The Sports minister is tweeting now, where was the Sports minister when those medals with which he got his pictures clicked, the PM (Narendra Modi) got pictures clicked, were going to be immersed in Ganga. Not one appeal by Sports minister, PM, by any minister, BJP MP, saying that ‘this country belongs to you, you will get justice, don’t do it’,” Hooda said.
But not one voice came from the government side as if they not only ”hated these sports persons but also their medals,” the Congress leader said.
”In the last three-four days, media has been unleashed and news is being planted, somebody talks about their (wrestlers’) jobs, somebody says they have distanced themselves from the agitation, and for everything the girls have to answer as if the trial is being held against them,” he said.
What kind of an example does the government want to set to save one accused, he asked. ”Media also needs to introspect. To assist a criminal also amounts to crime. The accused should be answering to the nation everyday and not the girls. The government will have to pay a heavy price for this,” he said.
Asked about the image of the government abroad, Hooda, who returned from the US where he attended events addressed by former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, claimed the wrestlers’ issue has hurt the image of the government at the international level. This issue has harmed the image of the government across the globe more than any other issue in recent history. The people have seen the design of the BJP which has shielded an MP at the cost of our daughters. Within the country also, the government will have to pay a heavy price,” Hooda said.
The wrestlers have been agitating against Singh and demanded his arrest. Some women wrestlers have accused him of sexually harassing them, charges he has denied.