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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 20, May 13, 2023

Crime and Indulgence | Faraz Ahmad

Saturday 13 May 2023, by Faraz Ahmad


It is getting to be a fortnight since the national wrestlers led by young women and girls, are sitting on dharna at Jantar Mantar, a stone’s throw from the new Parliament building in the Central Vista readied by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to welcome the accused in the wrestlers’ complaint, BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the current president of the Wrestling Federation of India(WFI) to mock these girls’ charge of sexual exploitation by Singh and their demand to arrest this BJP ‘Bahubali.’

Supported by their male comrades these girls, including a minor one among them, who won international acclaim and fame for India through wrestling at international sports events, are facing the unseasonal downpour and sleeping the night on wet footpaths to demand the arrest of their tormentor and alleged molester, who according to some reports has similarly ruined the lives of innumerable women forcing them to grant sexual favours in return for being selected to represent India at national and international events. But rest assured nothing will happen to Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, unless of course the Supreme Court gives specific directions to arrest him. We have witnessed how the Delhi Police has been refusing to register a First Information Report (FIR) against Singh, which is mandatory under the law, if it’s a complaint about rape, attempted rape or molestation. And if the reporting victim happens to be a minor, evident in this case, then the arrest of the accused without any further delay is also incumbent upon the Police. The FIR was finally registered only after the apex court directed the Delhi Police to do this. It might have required one more apex court intervention to egg on the Delhi Police to rise from its stupor and knock at Singh’s door. But the same day the Court on the suggestion of the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, rejected the hapless girls’ plea to direct the Police to follow up the FIR with the requisite action. Instead, it turned away these girls and boys, seeking justice to go to lower courts or at best the High Court, never mind if the crime against them is heinous enough to demand immediate redressal and intervention of the higher courts.

Compare this with the alacrity with which the Patna High Court acted on a petition by an upper caste group calling itself ‘Youth for Equality’ demanding suspension of the Caste census currently underway in Bihar since early January. The High Court ordered immediate suspension of the exercise about to complete in about a week from now, proclaiming that this is the job of the Central government and the state government has no business to usurp that power. Never mind that the Centre, despite repeated appeals has refused to heed to the request by several state governments. Nor that some other states too have undertaken this exercise of identifying the caste breakup of its citizens. Here the petition was from no more Youth, what equality? That was an elitist group from AIIMS, IITs and IIMs formed in 2006 against the UPA government to grant OBC reservation in admission to higher education learning as well. Are we more concerned about protecting our brilliant children from the predators or is protecting the interests of the upper caste by hiding the caste composition of Indian society our priority?

Instead of arresting Brij Bhushan, the Delhi Police on the night of May 3, attacked poor girls and boys at Jantar Mantar, trying to forcibly evacuate them from this common protest venue. Drunk policemen hit the boys and girls with batons on their heads, clearly to vacate the place of these young people, becoming an embarrassment to Prime Minister Modi and his government. It is now obvious whose side Modi is on—the national heroes or his Hindutva muscleman, Brij Bhushan. So much for Beti Bachao, Beti padhao hollow slogan of Modi. Worthies like Brij Bhushan leading the vigilante armies of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad are supposed to be protectors of our women against the Love Jihadis!

Brij Bhushan is no ordinary criminal. In a video interview with a You-tube journalist Lallantop he described in minute detail, with great relish how he gunned down a person and the UP Police dare not even question him. After all Singh, a Rajput with links to notorious yesteryears’ underworld Mumbai don Dawood Ibrahim, is a six-time MP and muscleman of the BJP. When we have a chief minister of UP wearing saffron robes with no fewer cases of crimes registered against him and upon assuming office withdrawing all cases against himself, who dare question this Singh?

The wrestlers have been seeking an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with no success so far. In January they met the Sports Affairs Minister Anurag Thakur and nothing came out of the minister’s assurances to these hapless young women. Will the Prime Minister heed to their appeal? I doubt very much. Modi being a man of action, If he were interested, he would have acted in a jiffy. But how would he? He has too many Sanjay Sheerpuriyas and Kiran Patel’s peeping out of his cupboard to hold the moral high ground to summon and question Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Sherpuriya’s address itself is questionable ostensibly living in the most VIP protected part of the Luttyen’s bungalow zone. Could anyone dare to operate from this area nonchalantly without the knowledge or rather tacit permission of the Prime Minister’s security apparatus? Never. As reporters most of us were visiting the Prime Minister’s residence occasionally whenever there was some major meeting to be covered. Most of the times we were made to wait outside across the road. Later during Manmohan Singh’s time, they also constructed a washroom and some covered space for us to facilitate or wait for long hours in case of rainfall. Once or twice if we were allowed inside to attend a press meet at the Panchavati, how many stages of security check drills we were made to cross and no mobile phones or electronic gadgets. All these had to be deposited at the specially erected counters. And even this privilege was available only to reporters accredited with the Press Information Bureau (PIB) of India carrying their photo identity cards issued by the PIB.

So no ordinary person can cross the threshold without the express consent of the Prime Minister personally. Naturally then be it Kiran Patel who claimed to be operating from the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) and Sherpuriya who gave his address as Race Course Road, must have had free access to the Prime Minister. How else could Kiran Patel enjoy Z plus security? And as for Sherpuriya his website has a full gallery of photos with not just the Prime Minister but all the big guns of the Parivar. And in one photo it is the Prime Minister offering a bouquet to Sherpuriya.

But who will dig out the relation the Prime Minister has had with these scamsters operating with impunity. There might be many more, if the CBI and ED, instead of being caged parrots were doing their work with honesty and integrity. Interestingly while Kiran Patel belonged to Gujarat, even Sherpuriya has a Gujarat connection. Remember how Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi and family were haunted and harassed over the alleged role of an Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in the purchase of Bofors gun by the Rajiv Gandhi government from Sweden. The gun proved its mettle in the Kargil war. Nothing was proved against Quattrocchi, least of all Sonia. But simply because both were Italians and Sonia, being comfortable with Italian befriended a fellow Italian in the late 1960s and 70s, faced the Opposition, mainly the BJP and media charge of payoffs in Bofors deal to Sonia through Quattrocchi But those were different times and the target of allegations was Sonia, not Modi.

Also, it is worth remembering how the then leader of the BJP L.K. Advani forced the then Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa to resign from the post of chief minister in 2011 following his indictment by the Karnataka Lok Ayukta Santosh Hegde investigating the illegal mining case. Advani himself resigned his Lok Sabha seat and withdrew from the race for the PM candidature in 1995 when his name came up as a beneficiary in the Jain Hawala case and did not come to Parliament till a Delhi Court cleared him of the charge.

But it will be futile to expect Modi to follow in the footsteps of such leaders. After all he has to save his government and promote his party and the likes of Brij Bhushan, Sherpuriya or Kiran Patel are only furthering his cause. No need to rake up Adani connection here.

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