Decisions that khaps will take for us could hurt nation, say protesting wrestlers

May 20, 2023 05:28 pm | Updated 05:28 pm IST - New Delhi

 Farmers take rest during the ongoing wrestlers protest against the alleged sexual harassment of players by WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi

Farmers take rest during the ongoing wrestlers protest against the alleged sexual harassment of players by WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi | Photo Credit: ANI

The protesting wrestlers on May 20 warned that a "big decision", which might "not be in the interest of the country", could be taken on Sunday to protest the "inaction" against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for his alleged sexual harassment of women grapplers.

The wrestlers have set May 21 as the deadline for the khap mahapanchayat to decide on taking the agitation forward.

Also read: Wrestlers vs WFI sexual harassment row | From Jantar Mantar to the Supreme Court, the story so far

The wrestlers have been protesting at Jantar Mantar since April 23 demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan, who they have accused of having sexually harassed seven female wrestlers, including a minor.

A protesting wrestler said the decision of the khaps could hurt the country just like the farmers' agitation, which lasted nearly 13 months.

"The decision our elders take (on Sunday) could be big one, one that might not be in the interest of the country. It could hurt the nation," she said at a press conference at Jantar Mantar.

She said that it wasn't an easy fight and that the wrestlers too had suffered a lot in terms of missing out on training and competition.

"We too have suffered a lot. An issue that could have been solved in a minute has taken a month... the farmers' agitation lasted 13 months and definitely hurt the nation, so if there is another agitation (like that), definitely the country will suffer," warned the wrestler.

Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia said the marches to create awareness about their plight would continue with a candle-light march planned at the India Gate on May 23.

"We will organise a candle-light march at 4:00 pm at India Gate on May 23," said Mr. Bajrang.

"Be it mosque, temple, gurdwara, church we will take our message for justice everywhere," added another wrestler.

Asked if the wrestlers had missed an opportunity by not marching to the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium where the IPL match between the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals is taking place, Vinesh said, "We are doing our best and will continue to do so (to create awareness).

"We are so busy with our protest at Jantar Mantar that we are not aware what's going on in other sport. We are completely disconnected with other sport. About half-an-hour back it came to our knowledge that a (IPL) match is going on... definitely we can think on those lines," she added.

On a day when the usual weekend crowd at the agitation site was missing, the wrestlers said that the government should not be celebrating 75 years of the country's independence when it couldn't ensure respect for the women folk.

"We are celebrating 75 years of independence, they (government) should not celebrate it because they have not been able to ensure respect for women," she added.

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