Bajrang Punia summoned in defamation case - Hindustan Times

Bajrang Punia summoned in defamation case

Aug 04, 2023 08:28 AM IST

Wrestling coach Naresh Dahiya has alleged that a malicious attack was made to tarnish his reputation as well as his credibility.

A Delhi Court on Thursday issued a summons to Olympic bronze medallist wrestler Bajrang Punia in a criminal defamation case filed by wrestling coach Naresh Dahiya. "I am of the prima facie view that all the ingredients of defamation are made out.....In view of the same, let accused, namely, Bajrang Punia be summoned for the commission of offence punishable under Section 499 read with Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code," said metropolitan magistrate Yashdeep Chahal in his order.

Wrestler Bajrang Punia speaks with the media during the protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh(PTI)
Wrestler Bajrang Punia speaks with the media during the protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh(PTI)

The court has directed Punia to appear before it on September 6. Dahiya had, through his advocate Sudhir Nagar, moved a criminal defamation complaint alleging that Punia, during the wrestlers' protest on May 10, made certain defamatory remarks against him during a press conference held at Jantar Mantar.

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He had alleged that a malicious attack was made to tarnish his reputation as well as his credibility. The court while issuing the summons noted that the evidence placed before the court reveal that Punia had made a reference to an ongoing rape case against Dahiya in Tis Hazari Court and had stated that he has no credibility to oppose the protest.

The court also noted that during the pre-summoning evidence, Dahiya had deposed that he was acquitted in the said rape case in 2019. "I have already been acquitted in that case. Bajrang's comments have brought me a bad name due to which at least 20 kids have quit my academy," said Dahiya who runs an akhada in the city's Shahbad Dairy area.

The court had also examined two other witnesses in pre-summoning evidence who had deposed that Dahiya's reputation faced a severe assault after the press conference.

After going through the complaint, the pre-summoning evidence and the supporting documents, the court observed, "It appears that the statement made in the press conference was a result of malicious intent and was not made in good faith."

Meanwhile, Delhi's Rouse Avenue court will hear the arguments regarding alleged sexual harassment against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and co-accused Vinod Tomar between August 9-11.

Withdrawals loom as WFI polls approach

At least four nominees, all from Singh's camp, are set to withdraw their nominations on Friday. These include Hamza Bin Omer who is contesting for vice-president, Asit Kumar Saha who is contesting for senior vice president and vice president, Rakesh Singh (executive member), and J Srinivasa (executive member). Rohtash Singh, who is running for the post of joint secretary, is also likely to withdraw.

"Brij Bhushan's camp is under pressure from the government which explains so many withdrawals. However, his group is still favourite to sweep the polls if voting happens," an official in the know of things said.

The last date for nominees to notify their withdrawals is August 5 and the final list of candidates will be officially released on August 7. The elections are scheduled for August 12.

Mahapanchayat for Vishal, Antim

Meanwhile, a mahapanchayat was held in Haryana's Hisar to support wrestlers Antim Panghal (53kg) and Vishal Kaliraman (65kg). The two wrestlers have won the Asian Games selection trials in Vinesh and Bajrang's weight categories but have been named standbys after IOA's ad-hoc panel handed automatic selections to the two senior wrestlers. A crowd of over 1000 converged in support of Panghal and Kaliraman and a 21-member committee of khap leaders was formed for further decision making.

"We demand retrials in 53kg and 65kg classes. Both Phogat and Punia should be asked to fight the same 4-5 wrestlers that Antim and Vishal beat in the trials, and if they manage to win their bouts, they should fight Antim and Vishal. That will be a fair selection procedure," Kaliraman's father Subhash Chand said.

Antim's father Ramniwas Panghal said the idea of approaching the Supreme Court has not been dropped yet, but a final call will be taken after due deliberation by the committee.

"We respect Bajrang and Vinesh and if they beat our kids, we'll be fine. All we want is a fair selection process," he said.

The committee also plans to meet sports minister Anurag Thakur in the near future and apprise him of their demands. A meeting with Punia and Phogat, both of who are back in the country following their overseas training trips, may also happen in a day or two.

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    Shantanu Srivastava is an experienced sports journalist who has worked across print and digital media. He covers cricket and Olympic sports.

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