The Delhi police on Sunday whisked away Indian wrestlers, who have been protesting at Jantar Mantar demanding immediate action against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Charan Singh over sexual assault allegations, on Sunday and detained Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia after they breached the security cordon while trying to move towards the new Parliament building for a planned women’s ‘Mahapanchayat’.
Soon after their detention, the protest site was cleared and the police will reportedly not permit them to continue their protest at the Jantar Mantar site.
As the wrestlers were forced into police vehicles, their cots, mattresses, coolers, fans and the tarpaulin ceiling and other belongings were removed.
Ironically, both Bajrang and Vinesh were detained just metres away from Brij Bhushan’s official residence at 21, Ashoka Road.
Earlier this morning, the police had warned the wrestlers not to move towards Parliament but they went ahead, leading to the scuffle.
The champion wrestlers had resumed their agitation against former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on April 23, demanding his arrest for alleged sexual harassment of several women grapplers, including a minor.
A teary-eyed Vinesh, who showed maximum resistance, later said from a bus that they are being punished for demanding justice.
“The accused is roaming free, he is being given shelter by the government and we athletes who won medals for the country are now being put in jail for demanding justice for country’s daughters,” she said.
With photos of Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia being manhandled by the police, DCW chief Sati Malik demanding immediate release of the Indian wrestlers on Twitter.
— Swati Maliwal (@SwatiJaiHind) May 28, 2023
Chaotic scenes were witnessed at Jantar Mantar as wrestlers and police officers shoved and pushed each other when Vinesh Phogat, her cousin sister Sangeeta Phogat and Sakshi tried to breach the barricades.
Vinesh provided a strong resistance against her detention and Sangeeta clung on to her cousin sister while lying on the road as the struggle continued for a few dramatic minutes.
The police officials dragged and lifted them into buses along with several other wresters and their supporters.
“They have been detained for violating law and order. We will take legal action after inquiry in due course of time,” Dependra Pathak, Special CP, Law and Order told news agency PTI
“We need to assess the entire situation. As you have seen the barricades have been broken and they moved ahead despite request and warning. So that is why we have removed them from here. The bottom line is peace and tranquility in all situation will be maintained. We will ensure professional steps to see to it that nothing goes wrong,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Pathak urged the wrestlers to not indulge in anti-national activities on the “historic day” of inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Today is the inauguration of our new Parliament. It is an important day for our country and proud moment. So any type of agitation or march on this day is anti-national. No way Delhi Policy can afford any lapse. We respect and love our athletes but can’t allow any untoward incident,” he said. Some police personnel also suffered injuries during the scuffle with one woman constable looked in discomfort and was out of breath.
The Delhi Police had beefed up security at Jantar Mantar following protesting wrestlers’ call for a ‘Mahila Samman Mahapanchayat’ before the new Parliament Building on Sunday.
Thousands of police personnel were deployed and multiple layers of barricades were in place in the Lutyens’ Delhi. The wrestlers, staging a sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar which is about two kilometres from the Parliament building, had said they will go ahead with their ‘Mahapanchayat’ at any cost.
The agitating wrestlers, including the likes of Olympic medallists Bajranj, Sakshi and Asian Games gold winner Vinesh have been demanding the arrest of the outgoing WFI President, who they have accused of sexually harassing several women grapplers.
The wrestlers had said that use of force by police will not deter them from going ahead with their peaceful march and the Mahapanchayat.
According to the live location shared by one of the wrestlers’ supporters from the moving bus, they were being moved towards Tikri border.
In another video shared by the wrestlers, Sakshi’s husband Satyawart Kadian and Jiternder Kinha were seen shouting slogan ‘Inqalab Jindabad’ along with several others with the Tricolour in hand as the police vehicle whisked them away.
(With PTI inputs)