New Delhi [India]: World Championships and Commonwealth Games medalist Vinesh Phogat and other wrestlers protesting against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Thursday accused Delhi Police of working in favour of the federation’s president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and urged them to release the protestors being detained.
A scuffle broke out between the protesting wrestlers and Delhi Police at the protest site on Wednesday night. The wrestlers claimed they were manhandled and abused by the police personnel. “Delhi Police is working in favour of Brijbhushan Sharan Singh,” said Vinesh to the media in a press conference.
Vinesh said that the wrestlers are extremely grateful to Supreme Court for the support they have shown them so far.
“We will follow whatever orders they issue. They have also said that we can go to Delhi High Court or Magistrate. We will do it in case timely action is not taken,” added the wrestler.
Amid the ongoing protest by top wrestlers in the national capital, the Delhi Police told the Supreme Court that proper security has been provided to the grapplers including a minor complainant.
Supreme Court on Thursday noted that the purpose of the petition has been served as FIR has been registered and that security has been provided to wrestlers. SC said that the proceedings have been closed at this stage and if petitioners wish for something else, they can approach the magistrate or the High Court in its jurisdiction.
Bajrang Punia, the Olympic medalist asserted that the wrestlers do not have any issues with any government, but the WFI and its president itself. He also urged Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to come and support the wrestlers.
“I urge him (Haryana CM) to come here and support us, it is about giving justice to the daughters of this country,” said Bajrang.
Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia also accused the protestors are being detained and urged Delhi Police to release them.
15 people including a leader of Bharatiya Kisan Union on their way to Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to support the wrestlers’ protest were detained by the police at Haryana’s Singhu border on Thursday.
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Abhimanyu Kohar and others were on their way to join the wrestlers’ protest against the WFI chief Brij Bhushan Singh over alleged sexual harassment complaints against him.
Some of India’s top wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, have been protesting against the WFI chief and BJP MP Singh over allegations of sexual harassment, demanding his arrest. Singh, the six-time MP has denied the allegations.
On Wednesday, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha met the protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar.
Usha, a retired Indian track and field athlete and a Rajya Sabha MP, had earlier ruffled feathers with her remarks that the wrestlers should have approached the IOA instead of hitting the streets against the WFI and its president.
“Indian Olympic Association is having a committee for sexual harassment, instead of going to the streets they (protesting wrestlers) could have come to us earlier but they did not come to IOA. It is not good for sports not only for wrestlers, they should also have some discipline,” the IOA president told reporters last week, a remark that didn’t go down well with the wrestlers.
Three months ago prominent wrestlers came forward to lead a protest against the WFI chief, following which the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports announced the formation of an ‘oversight committee’ to probe allegations against the WFI, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and some coaches.
On April 23, Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik, returned to the protest site at Jantar Mantar. They claimed that six women wrestlers, and a minor, filed a sexual harassment complaint against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh at Connaught Place Police Station but Delhi Police did not register an FIR. The protesting grapplers also wanted the Ministry to make public the findings of the Oversight Committee.
Seven days into protest, police registered two FIRs against WFI president Singh over allegations of sexual harassment and exploitation of women wrestlers by him.
“The wrestlers should have taken this step three months ago. FIR has been registered, now the wrestlers should focus on their practice. Even the Prime Minister does not have the right to punish, only the court does,” Yogeshwar Dutt told media.
The protesting wrestlers have made it clear that they won’t move until they get justice and Brij Bhushan be removed as the WFI chief and put behind bars.