Brij Bhushan Saran Singh, after 11 years as WFI President, faces a Dangal like never before

Vivek Mishra
Vivek MishraJan 19, 2023 | 12:35

Brij Bhushan Saran Singh, after 11 years as WFI President, faces a Dangal like never before

The sitting BJP MP from Kaiserganj in Uttar Pradesh rejected all the charges against him and refused to quit his post. (Photo: ANI)

India's star wrestler Vinesh Phogat, in a startling revelation on Wednesday (January 18), accused Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexually exploiting women wrestlers for many years. Phogat made the accusations as many wrestlers from the country protested against Singh and the WFI in Delhi's Jantar Mantar.

The sitting BJP MP from Kaiserganj in Uttar Pradesh rejected all the charges against him and refused to quit his post.


As many as 30 wrestlers had gathered at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday. They included Bajrang Punia, world championship medalist Vinesh Phogat, Rio Olympics medalist Sakshi Malik, world championship medallist Sarita Mor, Sangeeta Phogat and CWG medallist Sumit Malik.

The accusations: "I know at least 10-20 women wrestlers who have told me about the sexual exploitation they faced at the hands of (the) WFI President. They told me their stories. I can't take their names now but I can definitely reveal the names if we get to meet the Prime Minister and the Home Minister of the country," Vinesh said.

  • Vinesh also claimed that she had received death threats at the behest of WFI President from officials close to him because she dared to draw Prime Minister Narendra Modi's attention to several issues plaguing Indian wrestling when she met him after the Tokyo Games.

Response from Singh: "There is no truth in any of the allegations. Why should I quit? Even if one woman wrestler comes and proves the sexual harassment charge, I am ready to be hanged. There is an industrialist behind it (conspiracy)," said the 66-year-old WFI President.

"There can be an investigation by the CBI or police. There is no dictatorship. These same wrestlers had met me a week back and did not say anything," he said.



Who is Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh? In 1991 he was elected to the 10th Lok Sabha from Gonda constituency in Uttar Pradesh as a BJP candidate. He was re-elected to the 13th Lok Sabha in 1999 from the same constituency and in 2004, he was re-elected to 14th Lok Sabha from Balrampur constituency in UP state on the BJP ticket.

  • On 20 July 2008, he joined the Samajwadi Party and In 2009, he was re-elected to 15th Lok Sabha from Kaiserganj constituency in UP. Singh later joined the BJP months before the 16th general election and is currently member of 17th Lok Sabha from BJP.
  • Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was elected President of WFI for a third consecutive term in February 2019. Singh has been at the helm since 2011. In 2018, IOA appointed him as te Chef de Mission of India's Asiad contingent and the decision was widely criticized.

Criminal cases against Singh: An MP-MLA court in UP last year absolved Brij Bhushan Saran Singh and two others of all charges in a 29-year-old case related with attack on former minister in the Samajwadi Party government Vinod Kumar Singh alias Pandit Singh in 1993.

  • He was also a part of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and was, reportedly, also named as one of the accused in the 1992 Babri Masjid case.
  • There are several other cases against Singh but he has not been convicted in any of them. These charges include Attempt to Murder (IPC Section-307), charges related to Punishment for Dacoity (IPC Section-395) and charges related to illegal payments in connection with an election (IPC Section-171H).

Accusations of hitting wrestlers: Star Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia has accused Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of abusing and hitting the wrestlers. "Wrestlers are being harassed by WFI. Those who are a part of WFI know nothing about the sport," Bajrang Punia told reporters in a press conference.

"Our fight is not against the government or the Sports Authority of India (SAI). It is against WFI. We will share details later in the day. 'Yeh ab aar paar ki ladai hai' (It's a fight to the finish)," Bajrang told PTI.

When he hit a wrestler on camera: Last year Singh was seen on camera hitting a young wrestler and the video went viral on social media. Later, Singh explained that he lost his cool as the youngster was found guilty of doing age fraud in the U-15 wrestling tournament.

Sports Ministry seeks explanation: The Sports Ministry of India has said that it has taken a 'very serious view' of the allegations against the Wrestling Federation of India and its President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and has sought a response from the wrestling body within 72 hours.

"Taking cognizance of the protest staged by wrestlers, including Olympic and CWG medalists, in Delhi today and a press conference in which wrestlers have levelled serious charges of sexual harassment of women wrestlers by the President and coaches of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and of mismanagement in the functioning of the federation, the Sports Ministry has sought an explanation from WFI and directed it to furnish a reply within the next 72 hours on the allegations made," a statement from the Sports Ministry read.

Last updated: January 19, 2023 | 12:35
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