Wrestlers welcome SC order, plan to start training at the protest site from Wednesday

April 25, 2023 08:10 pm | Updated 08:10 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

With the Supreme Court taking cognizance of their sexual harassment complaints on Tuesday, the wrestlers sitting on protest are hopeful of a positive resolution to their demands but insist they will continue to sit in protest till a tangible action is taken.

The protesting wrestlers have sought filing of FIR against former Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and taking him into custody.

“We have no faith in or hope from the government, they have already manipulated and let us down. We only have hope from the supreme court. We cannot say this is a win in any way but yes, I think we can call it the first step towards justice,” Sakshi Malik said.

Bajrang Punia too refrained from reading too much into the court order. “That the highest court in the country has admitted our complaint and questioned the Delhi Police on not registering the FIR is a positive step and gives us hope. But as wrestlers, we know that no fight is over till the end. We are not going anywhere till something actually happens on our complaint,” he declared.

The wrestlers have claimed threats, bribes and pressure on the complainants — there are seven women wrestlers who have been mentioned but the court has ordered the redaction of all names from the public domain and resealing of the complaints — and blamed some coaches and officials of doing so on behalf of Singh.

“There were 15 girls who deposed in front of the committee formed by ministry. It is now down to seven in court. There is a lot of pressure of all kinds on everyone including us. They want to break us and end our protest but that will not happen. Everyone is welcome to meet us here including government but we will not go anywhere. Who will be responsible if anything happens to us,” Bajrang added.

Sangeet Phogat admitted it was tough in an important year for the wrestlers. “We have the Asian Games and the Olympic qualifiers. We have not trained for a long time and there is very little time left also. But between career and respect, the latter will always win. We are told we are lying, we are asked why we did not file any FIR. Now we are doing that but the system is not supporting us.

“When we first protested, we thought it was a serious issue and will be taken seriously. The government gave us assurance and we believed it, we were naive. But now we understand this fight can continue for long. We are prepared for it and have realised that this is a different battle. But from tomorrow we will train here only, we will get mats, exercise and work out,” she declared.

Singh, meanwhile, refused to comment, saying the matter was subjudice and the court will decide. The matter is scheduled for Friday.

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