‘Hurts’: Tokyo hero Neeraj Chopra extends support to wrestlers’ stir

Chopra demands “quick action” against BJP MP Brijbhushan Sharan Singh for alleged sexual harassment

| Updated: 28 April, 2023 10:40 am IST

New Delhi: India’s celebrated Olympian Neeraj Chopra has come out in support of top wrestlers protesting for a case of sexual harassment against its wrestling body chief, expressing concerns over “what’s happening”.

Chopra, the reigning world champion in javelin throw, on Friday morning said that he was “hurt” to see ace wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia “on the streets demanding justice”.

“They have worked hard to represent our great nation and make us proud. As a nation, we are responsible for safeguarding the integrity and dignity of every individual, athlete or not,” tweeted the young athlete, who became a sensation in India after his 87.58m throw at Tokyo Olympics 2020.

Demanding “quick action” against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president and a BJP MP, Chopra said: “What’s happening should never happen. This is a sensitive issue, and must be dealt with in an impartial and transparent manner.”

Chopra has issued a statement on Twitter.

 

“Pertaining authorities must take quick action in order to ensure that justice is served,” he added.
On April 22, Sakshi, Vinesh and Bajrang along with some other athletes launched their second found of protests at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi demanding “justice”.

They have accused Singh, a muscleman in Central UP region, of sexually exploiting female wrestlers over the years.

After their protest in January, the government had formed an oversight committee to probe their allegations, but the report is yet to be made public.

On April 24, seven top wrestlers jointly petitioned the Supreme Court seeking registration of an FIR against Singh for alleged sexual harassment of female wrestlers. Despite complaints from seven female wrestlers, including one minor, the police have yet to register an FIR.

The protestors claim that WFI officials are trying to force the complainants to withdraw their police complaint by offering them money.

The protest has since been joined by several political leaders, including former Haryana CM and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Congress leader Dr Udit Raj, and CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat and leaders from some other Opposition parties.

Meanwhile, sports minister Anurag Singh Thakur said that he spent 12 hours with the protesting wrestlers to address their concerns – a claim refuted to Bajrang Punia saying that the minister sat with them barely for a few minutes and mostly his officials mediated on the matter.

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha criticized the wrestlers’ protest, calling it “indiscipline” and saying that it is “tarnishing” India’s image. However, wrestler Sakshi Malik expressed disappointment with Usha’s statement, which she said ignored their grievances.

The protestors have declared that their protest will end only when a case is registered against Singh and he is arrested.

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