“I changed my statement because I was scared, my family is living under constant threat”: father of the minor wrestlers’ complainant

Minor complainant’s father changes allegations of sexual harassment against Singh, what does this mean for the case?

“I changed my statement in Court because I was scared… scared for my family, daughter and myself… my family is living under constant threat”- this was the statement given by the father of the minor wrestler complainant while changing his statement alleging sexual harassment against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. As per the report published by the Hindu, the father of the minor complainant has come out in the open about the threats he has been facing, and the amount of pressure they had been facing. The Hindu reported that the father of the said that he was threatened by people whose names he couldn’t reveal and “his family is living in intense fear”.

On late hours of Thursday, news of the minor complaint’s father issuing a “confession” hit the headlines, just a day after a false news was circulated that the minor has withdrawn her complaint. In the said statement, the father of the minor wrestler has also confessed to levelling a false sexual harassment allegation against Singh because he wanted “revenge” for his daughter’s rejection in the U-17 Asian Championship.

“I was filled with rage that my child’s one-year hard work had gone down the drain because of that referee’s decision in the final and I decided to take revenge,” he stated to PTI.

The father of the minor had also stated that his anger was directed towards the WFI chief because the referee was selected by Brij Bhushan Singh. “The federation appointed the referee (in the match against the minor wrestler which she lost). Who heads the federation? Who else should I be angry at?” PTI quoted the father of the minor, as saying. It is pertinent to noted, that it was based on the said complaint filed by the father of the minor that a second FIR was filed against Singh on April 28 at Connaught Place police station under IPC sections 354, 354(A), 354(D), 34 and section 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

The minor’s father, also the complainant, in the FIR had narrated in detail several instances when his daughter was allegedly sexually harassed by the WFI chief. He had claimed that Mr. Singh had “touched her inappropriately” and asked her to “support him, if she needed his support”. He had also alleged that his daughter was “completely disturbed and cannot be at peace anymore …sexual harassment by the accused (Singh) continues to haunt her”. The father also alleged that Brij Bhushan forcefully pulled his daughter towards him and molested her.

He also alleged that Singh had discriminated against his daughter. “To my utter shock, my daughter was hugely discriminated against,” he had said in the FIR.

However, after multiple reports claimed that the girl had withdrawn the complaint and a lot of confusion was created, the minor complainant’s father had told The Hindu that they recorded a fresh statement denying any incident of sexual harassment. However, it has been provided by the father that they have not withdrawn the complaint where they have alleged that Singh discriminated against his daughter.

He said, “We have not taken back any complaint, we have just recorded another statement before the magistrate on June 5, where we have alleged that he discriminated against her when it came to wrestling, and he did not sexually harass her,” the Hindu reported. On being asked why he filed the false case, the girl’s father said “he was fuelled by anger against him because his daughter lost in last year’s trial match”. “We are telling the truth so that it comes out while investigation is under way,” he added.

Elaborating on the same, he said, “My daughter was deliberately made to lose because of the staff that was on duty and the opponent, and everybody hailed from Delhi, which isn’t right according to the rules. I did complain regarding the discrimination to the Federation, but nobody heard me,” as provided by the Hindu. He said he was angry. “I felt disheartened and I was angry and why shouldn’t I be? Mr. Singh was biased against her, I had to sell my house to train my daughter. We only had three options: to get her married, educated or get her into sports. Now, we don’t know what her future will be.” “I understand that we made a mistake and we would like to rectify it,” he said, adding that the referee’s decision, in the trial match, was influenced by Singh.

“The police complaint that we have given, is somewhat true and partly false and we’ve cleared everything that is right and wrong,” he said. When the Hindu asked him about the allegations that his daughter isn’t a minor, he asserted that she is a minor and that they have provided the investigators with “legal documents pertaining to her identity”.

On Singh, the minor’s father said that he has “nothing against him, apart from the anger over how his daughter was treated”. “I will continue to stand with the wrestlers, who have always supported us since day one. What happened to the women is wrong,” the father of the complaint said.

Minor cannot ‘withdraw’ complaint against Brij Bhushan: Lawyer Vrinda Grover explains

Speaking to The News Minutes, and commenting on whether the reported retraction of allegations by the minor is contradictory, Vrinda Grover explained how this is the most normal, natural, and commonsensical thing to happen. Even if the minor did give another statement to the magistrate, lawyer and activist Vrinda Grover points out that calling this a “withdrawal” of the charges or complaint is a legal fallacy. She also said that since a large section of the media panders to the Union government’s power, such reportage creates confusion in the minds of people.

The minor and six other wrestlers had previously filed complaints against Brij Bhushan in April 2023. Speaking to TNM, Grover elaborated that statements by the minor wrestler, are deposed before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). “All 164 statements carry evidentiary value because they are made to a magistrate and signed by the maker of the statement. But such statements still have to be examined before a criminal trial court for their veracity to be established. No complainant can simply give a statement contradicting their previous one and take back their complaint or allegations. Such reportage by the media is not only the wrong interpretation of the law but also confusing,” she said.

“No matter how many statements the complainant gives, she will have to step into the witness box before the court and speak under oath. Since here the complainant is a minor, she will be given the required privacy and witness protection, and her statements will be examined by the court to arrive at their validity. So this is not a “withdrawal” of a complaint or evidence of the accused’s innocence. Once an FIR is filed in a criminal case, it has to be adjudged by a court of law. A crime is considered a wrong against society and the state is duty-bound to prosecute the accused before the law,” she added

Unveiling the fear that victims and survivors face

Changed my statement because I was scared’

While most of the media is focusing on the “confession” given by the father of the minor complainant’s father, and the withdrawal of the sexual harassment allegations against Singh, not much attention is being given to real confession that the father made, which is the pressure and threats that the family has been facing since they came out with their story. The father has revealed that he has been living in fear and was threatened. “I changed my statement in court not because of greed but because I was scared… scared for my family, daughter and myself. Many lives have changed since we raised the allegations. I have to face the society and the people, I was threatened by people, whose names I can’t reveal, and my family is living in intense fear. If anything happens to me or my daughter, how will we live?” he had told The Hindu.

This was not the first time that the minor complaint and the six other women wrestlers have come out and raised the issue of threats of dire consequences and inducements of money were being made to them. Even on the third day of the protest, the two-time World Championship medallist Vinesh Phogat, who has been leading the wrestler protest, said threats were being made to ‘break the resolve’ of the complainants. Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Bajrang Punia had also accused Singh’s coterie of threatening the family of the minor, the result of which can be seen today.

“They are trying to threaten the minor victim and pressure is being put on the family members to withdraw the complaint. We have learned that one of the people threatening them is a coach who is a Dronacharya-award winner and the other is the secretary of the Haryana Wrestling Association. They went to her house and are putting pressure on the family and also offered money. They want her to take the complaint back. Those women wrestlers who have filed complaints against the WFI president are being threatened too,” Bajrang had said as had been reported by the Indian Express.

Yesterday, after the father of the minor gave the above-mentioned statements, Phogat tweeted the following on her Twitter handle: “Will the daughters get justice in the atmosphere of fear and intimidation???” Vinesh wrote

In another tweet, she said, “May these daughters not lose courage one by one because of the delay in this fight for justice??? God give courage to all.”

It will not be a reach to say that considering the amount of state-sanctioned abuse, violence and pressure was being meted out to the protesting wrestlers, this particular piece of news did not surprise anyone, but rather re-iterated the power that men like Singh, and those supporting, him have in our country. The power exerted by this man is such that no arrest has been made, and rather it is the complainants only who are suffering. Besides, this this is not the first case where the complaint has redacted their statements, succumbing to the political and societal pressure put on them, as was witnessed in the Gujarat 2002, Vadodara’s famed Best Bakery case and the Sohrabuddin Sheikh extra judicial killings case. While in the first, Best Bakery, following a Registrar General, Supreme Court’s inquiry, the circumstances that caused prime witness Zahira Shaikh to commit perjury were revealed and she was ordered to serve a year’s of simple imprisonment, the Sohrabuddin case simply fell through the cracks with justice an elusive commodity.

It is a shame that a minor woman, who found the strength to fight against the wrongdoings committed by a powerful and politically backed man against her consent and her body, had to take a step back owing to the threats faced by her and her family.

Questions should now be raised over the continued delay in the arrest of the WFI chief and filing of the charge sheet. Additionally, a need for conducting an inquiry to probe the delay in the case has arisen, to investigate the circumstances leading to this situation where witnesses are being compromised.

Is the police bound by the statement of the father of the complainant?

It is essential to note that even after the father of the complainant has issued the above-mentioned statements, the Delhi police can still proceed with its probe. The statement of the father will not held to be “decisive” of the said case as one the FIR was lodged, the State took over the case and was pursuing it. Thus, the Delhi police is not bound to accept the statement of the father, and it can still pursue the case because the statement of the minor is already there on record under Section 164 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Notably, a statement recorded before a magistrate under Section 164 is admissible in court.

The statement of the father will now act as an additional element which the police may look into, and if it finds that the case is false, then it can take action as required by law. Therefore, the power resides with the police to investigate whether this withdrawal by father of the complainant is genuine or coerced, and whether it amounts to perjury or not.


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