Will return our medals: Ace wrestlers after mid-night drama

The wrestlers have been protesting for the past 12 days at Jantar Mantar, demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. 

NEW DELHI | Updated: 04 May, 2023 1:09 pm IST

NEW DELHI: Ace Indian wrestlers protesting for the arrest of wrestling body chief over sexual harassment announced their plan to return their medals and awards on Thursday hours after clashes with the Delhi Police at Jantar Mantar.

For more than a week, wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia along with many other sportspersons have been camping at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, demanding strict action against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh – a BJP lawmaker – over allegations of sexually exploiting female wrestlers.

On Wednesday night, a scuffle broke out between the protesters and policemen when the protesters tried to bring in some foldable cots to their site of agitation. The cots were arranged by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Somnath Bharti.

The clash resulted in injuries to two wrestlers. Female wrestlers were also subjected to misbehavior by the police. They further claimed that a policeman, who was deployed for their security, was caught in a drunken state.

ALSO READ: Midnight drama at Jantar Mantar: Wrestlers face police high-handedness

Speaking to the media, Tokyo Olympic gold medal winner Bajrang Punia expressed his disappointment with the behavior of the Delhi Police and announced their decision to return their medals and awards to the government.

DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal with protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Thursday. (TNI photo by Amit Rawat)

 

“What is our fault? We only wanted some cots since all our bedding got wet due to rain. The policemen did not allow those cots. They abused our female wrestlers and also assaulted us. If this is the respect of our medal, we will return them back to the government,” Punia to media persons.

He further said, “They didn’t know these players are Padama Shri awardees. I was not alone, Sakshi was also there.” Sakshi Malik is the first female Indian wrestler to win a medal in the Olympics, in 2016.

Punia also clarified that their only target is WFI chief Brijbhushan, who is allegedly using his IT cell to divert the protest towards politics. “We have a problem with Brijbhushan. He is our only target. No one else is our enemy. His IT cell people are diverting our demonstration towards politics. We are not doing politics here,” added Punia.

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Another wrestler, Vinesh Phogat, spoke about her experience of mistreatment by the police. “One officer abused me. And when the media came, he stopped abusing me. A policeman was drunk. When we caught him, he ran into a public toilet. We have given written complaints to the police,” said Phogat, who is the first Indian female wrestler to win gold medals in the Commonwealth and Asian Games.

The wrestlers have been protesting for the past 12 days at Jantar Mantar, demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

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