Please listen to our Mann Ki Baat, protesting wrestlers tell PM Modi

Tokyo Games bronze medallist Bajrang also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi

April 26, 2023 05:52 pm | Updated 07:41 pm IST - New Delhi

Participants at a protest by wrestlers at Jantar mantar in New Delhi on April 26, 2023.

Participants at a protest by wrestlers at Jantar mantar in New Delhi on April 26, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

"Why are you not listening to our 'Mann Ki Baat'," the protesting wrestlers asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 26 and sought his time to discuss the sexual harassment allegations against his party's MP and WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

The country's top wrestlers resumed their agitation against the wrestling federation's chief on Sunday, three months after they ended their sit-in protest following the formation of an oversight committee to probe into the serious allegations.

Also Read | Satya Pal Malik visits protest site, says ‘wrestlers will emerge victorious’

The Sports Ministry has not yet made public the findings of a six-member oversight panel that submitted its report on April 5.

The wrestlers on Wednesday said they are surprised that PM Modi felicitates them and clicks pictures with them when they win medals but now he has turned a blind eye to their plight when they are on road, seeking justice.

"PM Modi sir talks about 'Beti Bachao' and 'Beti Padhao', and listens to everyone's 'Mann Ki Baat'. Can't he listen to our 'mann ki baat'? He invites us to his home when we win medals and gives us a lot of respect and calls us his daughters.

“Today, we appeal to him that he listens to our ‘Mann Ki Baat’,” a wrestler said during a media interaction.

Also Read | Won’t contest for president’s post in WFI elections on May 7, will follow Sports Code: Brij Bhushan

The wrestler drew an analogy with Prime Minister's popular radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat' which is completing 100 editions and to mark the milestone, several programs are being organised by the government.

"I want to ask Smriti Irani [Union Minister] why is she silent now. It's been four days that we are sleeping on road, enduring mosquito bites. We are not being allowed [by Delhi Police] to prepare food and train, why are you silent? I just want to say that you come here, listen to us and support us," added the wrestler.

The athlete felt that that their point may not be reaching the Prime Minister. "Maybe our truth is not reaching him, so we want to meet him and let him know our issues."

An emotional World championship medallist Vinesh Phogat said, "We don't have the [telephone] numbers [of relevant people] by which we can reach out to him so we are appealing to PM Modi through media to raise issues. Maybe he can then listen to your cries. Our souls are almost dead, maybe he will see."

“He does his program ‘Mann ki Baat’ but has he, even for a minute given a thought to our ‘Mann ki Baat’, how much dilemma, does he think we face that daughters of the nation are sitting on the roads and are on the cusp of quitting wrestling by standing against a big criminal?”

Vinesh also said that they will take out a candle light march later in the evening.

Also Read | Delhi Police seeks report from probe committee investigating WFI chief for harassment charges

"Maybe the authorities can't see, so we will take out a candlelight march to offer some light. Maybe they can see that daughters of India, who are not just wrestlers but represent the feelings of many women, are out on the roads.

Tokyo Games bronze medallist Bajrang also appealed to the PM.

"These are daughters of India appealing to you, please do justice with them," he said.

"We had brought wrestling mats for practice but we were not allowed, even we can't prepare our food here because there is no permission. Now, will we have to take permission even for breathing," asked Bajrang.

He also added that efforts are being made by WFI chief's men to scare them.

"A few people are trying to discourage us and scare us by narrating stories about how Brij Bhushan got an adversary killed. But let me tell you that we are not going to get scared."

Vinesh also appealed to all athletes, across disciplines, to stand united with them.

"Can't we put greed, fear and self-interest behind us? I appeal to all sportspersons of the nation, Olympic medallists, national medallists and world championship medallists to come together and stay united.

"If we come together, there is no reason why we can't be number one nation in Olympics one day."

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