Rain fails to dampen spirit of wrestlers at Jantar Mantar

May 02, 2023 01:06 am | Updated May 04, 2023 11:23 am IST - NEW DELHI

Protestors at Jantar Mantar on Monday night.

Protestors at Jantar Mantar on Monday night. | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

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Standing under a makeshift tarpaulin shelter to avoid getting drenched in the rain, Rahul Yadav, a wrestler from Ghaziabad, who has been part of the protest at Jantar Mantar seeking the arrest of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, opened a weather application on his phone. The app forecast heavy rain over the next few days. “This is a sign, perhaps, of what lies ahead of us,” Mr. Yadav said. He has been camping here since the protest started on April 23.

After it stopped raining around 9.30 p.m., leaving the air heavy with the smell of damp mattresses and wet soil, around 30 protesters and volunteers at the site began looking for dry patches where they could spend the night.

Vishal Mor, 21, brother-in-law of the celebrated grappler Vinesh Phogat, said rain and humidity have led to an increase in mosquitoes. “They make it difficult for us to even sit here after dark. The footpath where we sleep is damp due to the rain. The place has also begun to smell. Our only respite comes in the form of mosquito-repellent creams,” Mr. Mor said.

Other protesters, such as ace wrestler Sakshi Malik and Ms. Phogat, could be seen helping their colleagues fix mosquito nets.

‘Deplorable conditions’

A wrestler who wished to remain anonymous said the electricity and water supply restrictions have made the living conditions quite deplorable.

“They have cut off the water supply. So, we are forced to get our own packaged water. Sometimes visitors donate bottles of water. That’s how we survive. You can try to stop the protest, but you can’t stop the people,” Mr. Yadav said.

Faced with limited resources and challenging circumstances, the protesters have divided responsibilities such as arranging food and other supplies among themselves. While Mr. Yadav is responsible for collecting food from nearby gurdwaras, a fellow wrestler has been tasked with collecting and charging mobile phones. Yet another protester takes care of arranging bedsheets and mattresses.

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