Wrestlers detained: Jantar Mantar protest site

Wrestlers detained: Jantar Mantar protest site

Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia were apprehended for breaking the law and disrupting public order when they crossed the security perimeter while attempting to approach the new Parliament building for a women’s ‘Mahapanchayat.’

The Delhi police took action on Sunday (May 28) by detaining Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia, which may result in a solid resolution to the wrestlers’ protest at Jantar Mantar. The athletes were detained for breaking the security barriers and attempting to march towards the new Parliament building for a women’s ‘Mahapanchayat’, thus violating law and order.

Right after the wrestlers were forcefully placed on buses and transported to an undisclosed destination, law enforcement personnel started to clear the protest area by removing the beds, mattresses, fans, and the covering tarpaulin, along with other possessions belonging to the wrestlers.

The champion wrestlers, once again, restarted their protest against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the head of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), on April 23, urging for his apprehension.

Police Action

Although no official statement has been released, it appears that the police are preventing the wrestlers from returning to the protest location.

Prior to the altercation, the police had cautioned the wrestlers against approaching the Parliament, but they disregarded the warning and proceeded, resulting in the clash.

At Jantar Mantar, a tumultuous situation unfolded as wrestlers and police officers engaged in physical altercations, forcefully pushing and shoving one another, following an attempt by Vinesh Phogat and her cousin sister Sangeeta Phogat to cross the barricades.

Vinesh resisted strongly against her detention, while Sangeeta held onto her cousin as they lay on the road during the struggle that lasted a few intense minutes. Eventually, the police officials dragged and carried them, along with other wrestlers and their supporters, onto buses.

Dependra Pathak, the Special CP for Law and Order, stated that they were detained for breaching law and order, and legal action would be taken after an investigation. Pathak emphasised the importance of maintaining peace and tranquillity, explaining that the protesters were removed due to their disregard of requests and warnings and the breaking of barricades.

Earlier, Pathak had urged the wrestlers not to engage in anti-national activities on the day of the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He emphasized that any form of agitation or march on that day would be considered anti-national and that the Delhi Police could not afford any negligence. Despite respecting and supporting the athletes, they could not allow any untoward incidents.

Wrestlers detained: Jantar Mantar protest site
Image Deccan Herald

A tearful Vinesh, who showed the most resistance, expressed her frustration from inside the bus, stating that the accused was roaming free while athletes who had won medals for the country were being imprisoned for demanding justice for the country’s daughters. Bajrang also felt that they were facing grave injustice for demanding justice, criticizing the accused and questioning the government’s lack of action. 

Sakshi took to Twitter to express her anger towards the government and the Delhi Police, highlighting the mistreatment of champions and the presence of an alleged sexual abuser in Parliament.

Ironically, both Bajrang and Vinesh were detained near Brij Bhushan’s residence at 21, Ashoka Road. The area was heavily secured with thousands of police personnel and multiple layers of barricades. 

Protesting Wrestlers

The protesting wrestlers, including Olympic medalists Bajrang, Sakshi, and Asian Games gold medalist Vinesh, had insisted on proceeding with their ‘Mahapanchayat’ regardless of the circumstances. They demanded the arrest of the outgoing WFI President, whom they accused of sexually harassing several female wrestlers.

The wrestlers expressed that they would not be discouraged by the police force and would proceed with their peaceful march and the Mahapanchayat. A supporter of the wrestlers shared a live location from the bus they were on, indicating that they were being taken towards the Tikri border. Another video shared by the wrestlers showed Satyawart Kadian, Sakshi’s husband, and Jitender Kinha, among others, shouting the slogan ‘Inqalab Jindabad’ as they were taken away in a police vehicle.

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