Indian police have questioned more than 155 people in a widening investigation of sexual harassment accusations against the chief of the national wrestling body, a police source with knowledge of the matter said.
The government has set a June 15 deadline to wrap up the investigation after the accusations made by some top wrestlers in January against the official, who is also a member of parliament from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political party.
The wrestlers camped outdoors in New Delhi for months to protest against a lack of action, but police cleared the site and detained some of the Olympic medallists when they threatened to march on India’s new parliament building last month.
A police spokesman declined to comment on the figure during a continuing investigation.
A lawyer for Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the president of the WFI, said his client was innocent and rejected the accusations. A six-time MP, Singh is set to hold a rally in his northern constituency on Sunday to seek public support.
The protest, and police action against top athletes, shone a spotlight on the government’s delay in tackling the complaint against a member of the ruling party.
Police complaints reviewed by Reuters showed seven female athletes, including a minor, detailed harassment by Singh.
At a meeting with the protesting wrestlers on Wednesday, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur promised swift action and efforts to boost safety for female wrestlers, along with fair elections to appoint a new chief of the body.
Punia, another Olympic medallist, Sakshi Malik and Asian Games champion Vinesh Phogat had to be talked out of plans to dump their medals in a river in protest on May 30.
The Sport and Rights Alliance, a global coalition of non-government bodies that promotes human rights in sport, urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ensure a transparent, independent and impartial investigation.
IOC officials were not immediately available for comment.