This video saddens me: Neeraj Chopra reacts to wrestlers’ detention

Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra expresses disappointment as wrestlers detained by Police during protest

| Updated: 28 May, 2023 7:32 pm IST
Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra (Photo Courtesy Twitter @Neeraj_chopra1)

NEW DELHI: Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra expressed his dismay on Sunday after top Indian wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Sakshi Malik were detained by the Delhi Police, and their protest site was cleared.

Chopra, the first track and field athlete from India to be crowned World No. 1, took to Twitter to share his thoughts, stating, “This video saddens me. There has to be a better way to deal with this.” He was referring to a video posted by Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi showing police highhandedness.

The wrestlers had planned to march towards the site of the new Parliament building to conduct a ‘women’s mahapanchayat,’ coinciding with the building’s inauguration by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Mahapanchayat will certainly be held today. We’re fighting for our self-respect. They’re inaugurating the new Parliament building today, but they’re murdering democracy in the country. We appeal to the administration to release our people detained by police,” Olympic bronze medallist Bajrang Punia said.

Initially, the wrestlers were permitted to leave Jantar Mantar, where they had been protesting since April 24. However, as soon as they crossed the protective barricades surrounding the protest site, they were apprehended by the police.

Due to the implementation of Section 144 in New Delhi, aimed at maintaining order during the Parliament’s inauguration, the Delhi Police intervened in an attempt to halt the wrestlers’ progress. Consequently, the march was abruptly halted at the end of Jantar Mantar Road.

Videos showed a scuffle breaking out between protesters and police personnel even as the former tried to resist. In one of the videos, a few female police officers can be seen forcefully dragging a woman away from the protest site.

In an ironic twist, the wrestlers were detained in front of the Ashoka Road residence of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, a five-time Member of Parliament who was previously accused of sexual harassment. Singh is also the president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and the wrestlers are demanding his dismissal from the post.

Meanwhile, the wrestling community and supporters rally behind Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, along with Commonwealth and Asian Games champion Vinesh Phogat.

Earlier, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat appealed to the international fraternity to extend their support to the protesting wrestlers.

“To all my international fraternity. Our Prime Minister is inaugurating our new parliament. But on the other hand, our supporters have been arrested for supporting us,” Malik tweeted. “By arresting people, how can we call ourselves ‘mother of democracy’? India’s daughters are in pain,” she added.

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