War of words over narco test as wrestling protest marks one month
After Brij Bhushan Singh said he was ready for lie-detector test, protesting wrestlers said they too are ready and wanted it to be done under SC's direction
The sit-in protest by the country’s elite wrestlers demanding the arrest of former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for sexual harassment completed a month on Monday with both sides ready to undergo a lie-detector test.
A day after Singh’s social media statement that he is ready to undergo a narco analysis test to prove he had done nothing wrong if Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat also underwent it, the protesting wrestlers said they were ready and wanted such an examination to be broadcast live.
“I am ready to get my narco test, polygraph test or lie detector done but my condition is that along with me, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia should also undergo these tests,” Singh, a six-time BJP MP, said on Facebook, which he also tweeted on Monday.
The wrestlers had, in a media conference on May 10, called for a narco test on Singh as well as the seven wrestlers, including a minor, on whose complaints two first information reports (FIRs) have been registered against him by Delhi Police. “His (Singh's) supporters have been calling us liars. I would say why not get a narco test done on him and the seven complainants? Whoever is proven wrong, please feel free to hang the person,” Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik had said.
The wrestlers in a media conference at the Jantar Mantar protest site on Monday, responded afresh. “We heard Singh has said he is ready for a lie-detector test provided we are also put through the same test. I would like to tell him that we are absolutely ready to prove our truthfulness. We also want the narco test to be conducted under the supervision of the Supreme Court and the test itself to be broadcast live. The country should be able to watch what questions are being asked to him and his responses,” Punia said.
The lie-detector test, usually considered a last resort to gather evidence by investigating agencies, can only be done on a court order and the person must consent to the procedure. The results or answers are not admissible in court. The tests are mandated to be video recorded.
“Singh named only Bajrang and Vinesh for tests. I would like to tell him that not just the two of us, all seven complainants who have filed FIRs against him are ready,” Phogat said.
Following his statement, #BrijbhushanSharanSingh became one of the top Twitter trends in India. Punia said: “I would like to urge the media and internet users to not treat him as some superstar or celebrity. The call for a narco test was first given by us and he is only responding to our demand.”
Phogat added: “All this while he was busy issuing baseless statements. His statement hasn’t yet been recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC (to be admissible in court). Please don’t paint him as a righteous man because he is not.”
The wrestlers, who plan to take out a candlelight march at India Gate on Tuesday, sought Delhi Police’s co-operation. “We’ve always been peaceful in our protest and we will adhere to the rules tomorrow. We will respect the sanctity of a place such as India Gate but we urge Delhi Police to let our supporters join us. There won't be a law and order problem because of us,” Punia said.