The protesting wrestlers on Saturday warned against using their platform for political gains claiming few people are trying to take their fight justice to a different direction even as a defiant WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said he is ready to face “any kind” of probe but won’t resign from his post.
The wrestlers’ statement came on a day many politicians including Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met them at their protest site – Jantar Mantar in Delhi.
Extending support, Kejriwal said that those who commit wrongs against women “should be hanged”, while the Congress demanded Singh’s arrest and his ouster as president of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).
On Friday, Delhi Police registered two FIRs against Singh on allegations of sexual harassment levelled by seven women wrestlers. While the first FIR pertained to allegations of a minor wrestler and was registered under the POCSO Act, the second was related to outraging modesty.
“A lot of people have entered the protest site and trying to project it as a ‘bhadkau andolan’ but this is fight to save Indian wrestling. People who are here (assembled) are in our support but not for any political gains,” said Bajrang.
“Politics and other things are secondary, the dignity and honour of women is first, so please don’t indulge in politics. This is players’ movement, so do not link to any political party,” he added.
Vinesh Phogat also sought to placate the people in position of power.
“All those, who hold constitutional posts (I want to say), that the common man also deserves respect. We respect all, we will not say anything that goes against their honour, but we should also be respected,” she told reporters.
Punia also claimed they were being harassed by Delhi Police.
“Last night, they cut our power supply, did not let us bring food and water and even mattresses and takhtas (wooden cots). Even one of the workers, who brought these things to the protest site, has not reached home. The police is not treating the athletes well.
“Is this the honour of the country’s athletes? What’s the point of winning those medals if we had to face all these?” he asked.
“We do not support any political party,” says wrestler Sakshi Malik told ANI as they protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, in Delhi
At Gonda, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh took a strong exception to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s meeting with the wrestlers saying, “Today it has been seen who is behind this controversy. I have been saying from the beginning that an industrialist and the Congress have a hand in this. They are upset with me.” He, however, did not elaborate. In the past couple of days Congress party’s Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary, former Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, Delhi government ministers Atishi Singh and Suarbah Bhardwaj among others have visited the protest site to extend their support to the athletes.
“I’m not a criminal. Resigning means I have accepted their allegations,” Singh said. He also questioned why the wrestlers are still sitting on dharna even after FIR was lodged.