New Delhi: The ongoing wrestlers’ protest in the national capital has taken a new toll as India’s star grapplers Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat have declared to throw their medals in River Ganga in Haridwar on Tuesday evening.
The wrestlers took to Twitter and shared a post about the chain of events that have unfolded in recent days and the way authorities handled the situation.
The protesting wrestlers said that they will visit Haridwar and throw their medals in the Ganga at 6 pm on Tuesday. They said they will sit on hunger strike at India Gate after throwing their medals.
“Going to Haridwar to throw our medals in Ganga,” say wrestlers
— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) May 30, 2023
In their post, the wrestlers said, “You saw everything that happened on May 28, how police treated us and the way they arrested us. We were protesting peacefully, our place has been taken away and the next day serious cases and FIR were filed against us. Have the wrestlers committed any crime by demanding justice for the sexual harassment that happened to them? The police and the system are treating us like criminals, while the oppressor is taking jibe moving freely. He is even openly talking about changing the POSCO Act.”
Several ace grapplers including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik have been protesting against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh accusing him of sexual harassment and demanding his arrest.
They also went on to question the fact that how the women wrestlers had to hide for the entire day.
“Yesterday, many of our women wrestlers were hiding in the fields. The system should arrest the oppressor but it is engaged in breaking and intimidating the victim women to end their protest,” the grapplers said.
They further said that these medals are left with no meaning.
“It is not less than death for us thinking of returning medals but how can we live compromising our self-respect? We don’t need these medals anymore. If we speak against exploitation, they prepare to put us in jail,” the wrestlers said.
“We are going to shed these medals in the Ganga. Our medals which we earned after hard work are as sacred as River Ganga. These medals are sacred for the entire country and the right place to keep the sacred medal can be holy Ganga and not our unholy system which masquerades us and stands with our oppressor after taking advantage of us. The medal is our life, our soul. We will sit on hunger strike at India gate till death,” the wrestlers added.
On Sunday, India’s Olympic medallist wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia along with Vinesh Phogat and Sangeeta Phogat were detained by Delhi Police while attempting to march to the new Parliament building where they planned to stage a demonstration.
FIR has been filed under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 147, 149, 186, 188, 332, 353, Section 3 of the PDPP Act, said Delhi Police.
“We provided all possible facilities to the wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar for the past 38 days. But yesterday they violated the law despite all requests made to them. They were detained and released by the evening,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Suman Nalwa.
The Delhi Police also removed the tents of the protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar.
“Yesterday, protesters violated the law despite all requests made to them. That is why, the ongoing sit-in protest has been made to conclude. If the wrestlers give an application for sit-in protest again in future, they will be permitted for the same at a suitable place other than Jantar Mantar,” said Delhi Police.
On Sunday, the protesting wrestlers trying to march towards the new Parliament from their protest site at Jantar Mantar were stopped and detained by the security personnel in Delhi.
The Delhi Police earlier said that “unsocial elements” won’t be allowed to enter the national capital to ensure smooth conduct of the inauguration ceremony of the new Parliament building.
The wrestlers had announced that they planned to hold a women’s Maha Panchayat in front of the new Parliament as part of their protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan who has been accused of sexually harassing women wrestlers. Seven women wrestlers have filed a police complaint against him.