Jantar Mantar scuffle | Protesting wrestlers say ‘ready to return all our medals and awards’

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi condemned the ‘manhandling’ of protesting women wrestlers as shameful

May 04, 2023 12:46 pm | Updated 06:07 pm IST - New Delhi

Security beefed up after a scuffle between wrestlers and the police at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi on May 3, 2023.

Security beefed up after a scuffle between wrestlers and the police at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi on May 3, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Hurt by the “boorish behaviour of the Delhi Police”, protesting wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia on May 4 offered to return their medals and awards to the government, saying these honours are of no use if they are being subjected to such humiliation.

Also read: Farmers coming to Jantar Mantar stopped at Singhu border; police say 24 detained

The wrestlers have been sitting on a protest in the national capital since April 23, demanding the arrest of WFI chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for alleged sexual harassment of seven wrestlers including a minor.

Around 11 p.m. on Wednesday, a scuffle broke out at Jantar Mantar between the protesting wrestlers when they were bringing in folding beds for their night stay and the on-duty police personnel who allegedly began enquiring about that.

Also read: No force used against protesting wrestlers; 5 police personnel injured, says Delhi Police

"If this is how the wrestlers will be treated, what will we do with the medals? Rather we will live a normal life and return all the medals and awards to the Indian Government," Bajrang, an Olympic bronze medallist, told reporters on Thursday morning.

"When police is pushing us, abusing us, misbehaving then they don't see that we are Padma Shri awardee, and not only me, there is Sakshi [Malik] also," he said referring to the Rio Olympics bronze medallist.

Also Read | Can hang me but don’t stop wrestling activities: Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh

"They are misbehaving with us. Women and daughters are sitting on the streets, begging for kindness but no one is bothered about getting justice."

There was heavy security at the Jantar Mantar site following last night's ruckus between the wrestlers and a few Delhi police personnel, leading to injuries to two protesters.

Also Read | DCW chief Swati Maliwal meets wrestlers, says will take action

"Take it [medals] all away. We have been humiliated so much. We are fighting for our respect but being crushed under their feet. Does all men have the right to abuse women?" said Vinesh, who is Khel Ratna awardee.

"We will return all our medals, even give our life but at least get us justice."

‘BJP’s treatment of wrestlers shameful’

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi condemned the “manhandling” of protesting women wrestlers as shameful and accused the BJP of never shying away from committing atrocities on the daughters of the country.

Also Read | Kill us if you want, won’t tolerate such disrespect: Vinesh Phogat

He also dubbed the BJP’s slogan of “Beti Bachao” as mere hypocrisy. “Such behaviour with the players of the country is shameful,” the former Congress president said.

“’Beti Bachao’ is just hypocrisy. In fact, the BJP has never shied away from committing atrocities on the daughters of the country,” Mr. Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi while sharing a video of the players in which they are accusing the police of beating them up.

Meanwhile, slamming the BJP over the scuffle, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called its treatment of national sportspersons shameful and arrogant.

Mr. Kejriwal in a tweet in Hindi said that arrogance has gone to the head of the BJP and it wanted to run the system through “hooliganism” as he called on people to throw it out of power.

A scuffle broke out late Wednesday night between the wrestlers staging a protest at Jantar Mantar and some policemen, leading to a couple of protesters getting injured.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Somnath Bharti and Congress leader Deepender Hooda were among the people who were detained after the incident, according to police.

In a video that circulated on social media, some of the protesters were seen accusing a policeman of attacking two wrestlers in a drunken state.

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