Wrestlers Won’t Be Allowed To Protest At Jantar Mantar, says Delhi Police
29 May, 2023 | Vaishali Sharma
During a protest march to the new parliament in the national capital yesterday, police officers were seen manhandling the wrestlers.
A day after filing rioting charges against protesting wrestlers, the Delhi Police said today that the protesters yesterday broke the law in a frenzy despite repeated requests, which is why their protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, the city’s designated protest site, was called off. The elite grapplers’ sit-in protest was going well so far, they said. The wrestlers have denied that they were rioting or engaging in violence.
“If the wrestlers apply for permission to stage a sit-in again in the future, they will be allowed at any of the suitable, notified places other than Jantar Mantar,” the Deputy Commissioner of Police, New Delhi, tweeted in Hindi.
During a protest march to the new parliament in the national capital yesterday, police officers were seen manhandling the wrestlers. Shocked social media users across the country said it was ironic that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was inaugurating the new parliament building, dubbed the “temple of democracy,” just two kilometres from where the Delhi police, which is controlled by the Centre, was seen cracking down on India’s top female athletes.
The wrestlers have been charged with rioting, unlawful assembly, and impeding public servants from performing their duties. The case names all wrestlers who took part in the protest, including Vinesh Phogat, Sakshee Malikkh, and Bajrang Punia.
“Everything is visible in the video. When there are 20–30 constables stopping one wrestler, how can we do any sort of riots? We were just trying to tell them that please don’t take us away. We just want to do a peaceful march because nobody is listening to us, but they forcefully dragged us inside the bus. We got scratches because of that. We didn’t do any riot, we didn’t damage any public property. We neither pulled nor pushed the barricading. We are doing our peaceful protest from day one, and we were requesting them to let us go, but we were not allowed to go,” Olympic medallist wrestler Sakshee Malikkh told news agency ANI.
Videos from the scene showed the champions being shoved, pushed, pinned down, and dragged into buses, causing outrage across the country. The tension rose when the wrestlers, led by Vinesh Phogat and her cousin Sangeeta Phogat, attempted to breach the police security barricades.
Soon after, the Delhi Police cleared the Jantar Mantar sit-in site and stated that they would not be allowed to return.
According to police, 700 people were detained throughout the national capital. At Jantar Mantar, 109 protesters, including the three wrestlers, were detained. Later in the evening, female detainees were released.
The athletes planned a women’s assembly near the new parliament to protest BJP MP and wrestling federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, accusing him of sexually harassing several female wrestlers, including a minor. They have demanded that he be removed as president of the Wrestling Federation of India and that their police case be heard as soon as possible.
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