India ex-wrestling boss pleads not guilty to sexual harassment

By AFP   May 21, 2024 | 07:20 pm PT
India's scandal-hit ex-wrestling federation chief pleaded not guilty to sexual harassment of female athletes as his trial opened Tuesday.

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party, denied he had groped female athletes and demanded sexual favors from them.

"When I have not committed any mistake, why will I admit it?" Singh told the court in the capital Delhi on Tuesday, NDTV news network reported.

Singh, 67, was charged last June with sexually harassing and stalking women wrestlers.

Many of India's top wrestlers had led a noisy sit-in protest campaign demanding his ouster after the allegations came to light last January.

The weeks-long demonstration by India's top wrestlers, including world champion medalist Vinesh Phogat and Olympic bronze medalist Sakshi Malik, attracted widespread attention.

Wrestling is hugely popular in rural northern India and images of star athletes being detained as they tried to march to parliament in May went viral on social media.

Fellow athletes including javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and rifle shooter Abhinav Bindra lent their support.

Singh is not contesting a seat in the ongoing elections after he was denied a ticket by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

His son is contesting instead.

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