Bengaluru: After backlash, Kambala organisers drop Brij Bhushan’s name

"After the controversy, it was decided to drop Brij Bhushan's name from the invite. We have decided to change the invitation at the last moment," said a statement from the Kambala organisers.

After getting an invite to attend the traditional Kambala event in Bengaluru on November 25 and 26, the organisers decided to drop the former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan’s name from the invite list following massive backlash. The development comes after a report published by The News Minute.

The Kambala organiser committee released a statement saying, “After the controversy, it was decided to drop Brij Bhushan’s name from the invite. We have decided to change the invitation at the last moment.”

Brij Bhushan was expected to felicitate local wrestlers on November 25. Popular Kannada actor Darshan, former BJP MLA Arvind Limbavali, along with Congress leaders including Karnataka rural development and panchayat raj minister Priyank Kharge, Assembly speaker U T Khader, and Union Minister Shobha Karandlaje are expected to attend the event.

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Brij Bhushan, who is a six-time MP – five times from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and one time from the Samajwadi Party – has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by six female wrestlers.

Allegations against Brij Bhushan

On January 18,  female wrestlers including Olympic and Commonwealth Games medal winners Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh Phogat protested against Brij Bhushan’s charging of sexual misconduct and harassment.

The wrestlers alleged Bhushan of touching inappropriately without consent, stalking, intimidating and demanding ‘sexual favours’.

With slow progress from the Union government’s side, the wrestlers resumed their protest on April 23 demanding an FIR against Brij Bhushan. Their demand was instantly refused by the Delhi Police.

On April 28, the Supreme Court came to the distraught wrestlers’ rescue ordering the Delhi Police to register an FIR against Brij Bhushan. Two FIRs including the POCSO Act were evoked against Bhushan. The BJP leader was charged under Sections 54 (assault with intent to outrage woman’s modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), 354D (stalking) and 34 (common intention).

However, even after FIRs were lodged, the Delhi Police refused to take action against Brij Bhushan citing inadequate evidence. The wrestlers intensified their protests leading to clashes between them and the Delhi Police.

On May 28, when the new Indian Parliament building was being inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wrestlers marched towards the building as part of a non-violent protest but were instantly restricted by the Delhi Police leading to commotion and widespread condemnation by opposition political parties, certain sportspersons and citizens.

Feeling humiliated and let down by the Central Government, the wrestlers decided to immerse their medals won on various international stages, including the Olympics in River Ganges in Haridwar. However, they were stopped by the farmer leader Rakesh Tikait who promised full support to them.

Meanwhile, on July 18, Brij Bhushan was granted bail by a Delhi court. Bhushan was never arrested.

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