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The only minor among the seven female wrestlers who had accused the president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) of sexual harassment and stalking has withdrawn her allegations, according to The Indian Express. The 17-year-old has given a new statement before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which will be considered as evidence in court. This new statement will be crucial in determining whether the charges will be pursued and which statement under Section 164 will take precedence during the trial.

The minor’s father did not respond to a query.

In a complaint filed with the Police and reported by The Indian Express, the minor’s father had stated that she was “completely disturbed and cannot be at peace anymore…sexual harassment by the accused (Singh) continues to haunt her.” The complaint detailed an incident where Singh, “holding her tightly, pretending to get a picture clicked,” had “squeezed her towards himself, pressed hard on her shoulder and then deliberately…brushed his hands against her breasts.”

On May 10, the minor had given her initial statement before a magistrate, detailing incidents of sexual harassment against Singh. According to the FIR, Singh was charged under Section 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and IPC Sections 354, 354A, 354D, and 34, which carry a jail term of one to three years.

Section 10 deals with aggravated sexual assault against a minor, punishable with a jail term of up to seven years. Section 9 of the POCSO Act criminalizes sexual assault against a child by a person in a position of trust or authority. Sections 9(o) and 9(p) define aggravated sexual assault as “whoever, being in the ownership or management or staff, of any institution providing services to the child, commits sexual assault on the child in such institution;” or “whoever, being in a position of trust or authority of a child, commits sexual assault on the child in an institution or home of the child or anywhere else.”

Senior advocate Rebecca John commented, “I am not surprised. The calculated delay in arrest in such cases puts the complainant through pressure. These kinds of struggles are long and painful. When women come out in such cases, they put their lives and careers at stake.”

Apurva Vishwanath is a Senior Assistant Editor with The Indian Express, and Mahender Singh Manral is an Assistant Editor with the national bureau.

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