Scuffle between wrestlers, Delhi police at Jantar Mantar; two protesters suffer head injuries, allege wrestlers

Wrestlers say one protester was injured in attack by ‘drunk policeman’

May 04, 2023 01:06 am | Updated 01:28 pm IST - New Delhi

 Wrestler Bajrang Punia in conversation with a police official after a scuffle broke out between protesting wrestlers and Delhi Police, at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi on May 3, 2023.

Wrestler Bajrang Punia in conversation with a police official after a scuffle broke out between protesting wrestlers and Delhi Police, at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi on May 3, 2023. | Photo Credit: ANI

A scuffle broke out at Jantar Mantar between the wrestlers, who are protesting against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and personnel of the Delhi Police late on May 3.

Several videos of the incident went viral on social media, one of which showed some protesters accusing one policeman of being drunk.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Pranav Tayal said, “Mr. Somnath Bharti [Aam Aadmi Party MLA] came to the protest site along with folding beds without permission. Upon intervention, his supporters became aggressive in trying to get the beds out of the truck. A minor altercation took place in which Mr. Bharti was detained along with two others.”

Also read | Rain fails to dampen spirit of wrestlers at Jantar Mantar

‘Abused, hit with sticks’

Bajrang Punia, who is among those leading the agitation, told reporters that some wrestlers were sleeping on wooden cots in the rain, when a few policemen “attacked them” with batons.

Star wrestler Vinesh Phogat was seen crying and said “no women police personnel” were present at the spot. She asked reporters, “Why were they [policemen] pushing us?” In another viral video, Ms. Vinesh said one wrestler “suffered head injuries” and the police also “misbehaved and pushed” women protesters.

Urging citizens to reach Delhi to support the protesters, Mr. Punia said, “Take your tractors and come to Delhi before morning. They are abusing sisters and daughters.”

‘Threatened by police’

Gopal Tiwari, who is among the organisers of the protest, said one policeman had been caught drinking in a toilet before the scuffle and people demanded his medical test be done. “But the police threatened us and took him away.”

He told The Hindu, “We brought cots due to the rain and waterlogging, but the cops started throwing them around. Bajrang and Vinesh reached at the spot and a three-star officer started abusing them, mainly by pointing at Vinesh.”

“In the ensuing chaos, some cops hit [wrestler] Rahul Yadav in the head with a foldable cot, kicked him and hit him with sticks. He suffered injuries in the head and a leg.”

Mr. Tiwari said the protesters were not even allowed to take Mr. Yadav to the hospital, adding that some policemen also misbehaved with women.

Action sought

Geeta Phogat, Olympian and a cousin of Ms. Vinesh, tweeted, “Attack on wrestlers by police at Jantar Mantar, in which my younger brother Dushyant Phogat’s head was bashed and another wrestler was also injured. It is very shameful.”

Delhi Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj hit out at the Union Government and demanded the medical test of the accused drunk policeman and MLC of the wrestlers.

He tweeted, “Central Govt will avoid getting Medical Test of its Police officer. Lady wrestlers alleged that policeman is intoxicated and he misbehaved to lady wrestlers. What a shame!”

Delhi Commission of Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal reached the protest site later at night, soon after which her official Twitter handle said that she had been arrested.

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