Farm leaders who support India’s top athletes in their fight against wrestling corps chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh have given the center a new ultimatum – arrest him or face a bigger protest.
“We have decided that the government should address the grievances of the wrestlers and he (Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh) should be arrested. Otherwise, we will go with the wrestlers to Jantar Mantar in Delhi on June 9 and hold panchayats all over the country,” Farmer Leader Rakesh Tikait said.
“The charges against the wrestlers must be withdrawn and the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh must take place,” Mr Tikait said.
BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh faces allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation. The wrestlers alleged that he abused his position as head of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to sexually harass athletes.
Farmer groups yesterday staged a “khap mahapanchayat” in Uttar Pradesh and a series of protests in Punjab and Haryana in solidarity with the wrestlers.
The wrestlers were reportedly roughed up by Delhi Police personnel as they tried to march towards the new parliament building after it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday.
Olympic and world champion wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sangeeta Phogat are among those protesting the outgoing WFI chief.
Sports Minister Anurag Thakur assured that justice would be done for the wrestlers, who however did not agree on anything less than the arrest of the BJP MP.
“The government is in favor of an impartial investigation… We all want justice, but it will happen after following due process,” Mr Thakur told The Times Network’s India Economic Conclave yesterday.
The wrestlers traveled to Haridwar on Tuesday after announcing they would dip their medals into the Ganges. They were persuaded by the khap and peasant leaders not to carry out the threat. The executives asked for five days of time for the wrestlers to address their concerns.
The Delhi Police filed two FIRs (First Information Reports) based on the wrestlers’ complaints. One of them relates to allegations of an underage wrestler and was filed under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO).
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