The Delhi Police on Sunday booked the organisers of the wrestlers’ protest at Jantar Mantar on charges of rioting and unlawful assembly, hours after officers detained several of the demonstrating athletes, including Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, and dismantled makeshift tents at the protest site.
The police said that 700 people were detained across the national capital. As many as 109 protesters, including the three wrestlers, were detained at Jantar Mantar. Women detainees were released later in the evening.
"It takes 7 days for Delhi Police to register an FIR against Brij Bhushan who sexually assaulted him and it didn't even take 7 hours to register an FIR against us for peacefully protesting. Has dictatorship started in this country? The whole world is watching how the government is treating its players," wrestler Sakshi Malik tweeted.
दिल्ली पुलिस को यौन शोषण करने वाले बृज भूषण के ख़िलाफ़ FIR दर्ज करने में 7 दिन लगते हैं और शांतिपूर्ण आंदोलन करने पर हमारे ख़िलाफ़ FIR दर्ज करने में 7 घंटे भी नहीं लगाए। क्या इस देश में तानाशाही शुरू हो गई है ? सारी दुनिया देख रही है कैसे सरकार अपने खिलाड़ियों के साथ कैसा बर्ताव… https://t.co/h0TEXY0x92— Sakshee Malikkh (@SakshiMalik) May 28, 2023
Vinesh said the wrestlers were being detained even though they only wanted to protest peacefully. “Today, the new Parliament building, a symbol of democracy, is being inaugurated. It is sad that on the same day, we are not allowed to take out a peaceful protest march. This is the death of democracy,” she said.
After her release, Malik took to Twitter and said their protest will continue at Jantar Mantar. “Our struggle has not ended. We will begin our protest at Jantar Mantar again,” she tweeted.
दिल्ली पुलिस को यौन शोषण करने वाले बृज भूषण के ख़िलाफ़ FIR दर्ज करने में 7 दिन लगते हैं और शांतिपूर्ण आंदोलन करने पर हमारे ख़िलाफ़ FIR दर्ज करने में 7 घंटे भी नहीं लगाए। क्या इस देश में तानाशाही शुरू हो गई है ? सारी दुनिया देख रही है सरकार अपने खिलाड़ियों के साथ कैसा बर्ताव कर…— Vinesh Phogat (@Phogat_Vinesh) May 28, 2023
Just two kilometers away from the inauguration ceremony of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wrestlers were pushed, shoved and detained by Delhi police on the claims that they breached the security cordon while trying to move towards the building for a planned women's 'Mahapanchayat'.
Opposition slams 'manhandling' of wrestlers
Opposition parties slammed the central government over the "manhandling" of wrestlers, who had resumed their agitation against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on April 23 demanding his arrest for alleged sexual harassment of several women grapplers, including a minor.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said that the "arrogant king is crushing the voice of the people" on the streets as the "coronation" is over and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said it is "shameful our champions are treated in this manner".
राज्याभिषेक पूरा हुआ - 'अहंकारी राजा' सड़कों पर कुचल रहा जनता की आवाज़! pic.twitter.com/9hbEoKZeZs— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 28, 2023
While Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge attacked the government over the "forcible" removal and "manhandling" of wrestlers protesting at the Jantar Mantar as they were trying to march towards Parliament, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the "arrogance" of the BJP government has increased so much that it is "mercilessly trampling" upon the voices of our women sportspersons under its boots.
The party sought a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the allegations of the wrestlers.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also condemned the police detention of wrestlers. "Such treatment to the sportsperson who brought laurels to the country is grossly wrong and condemnable," he said.
देश का मान बढ़ाने वाले हमारे खिलाड़ियों के साथ ऐसा बर्ताव बेहद ग़लत एवं निंदनीय। https://t.co/hoKX2ewlli— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) May 28, 2023
Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee strongly condemned the way the Delhi Police "manhandled" Malik, Phogat and other wrestlers.
"It’s shameful our champions are treated in this manner. Democracy lies in tolerance but autocratic forces thrive on intolerance and quelling of dissent. I demand they be immediately released by police. I stand by our wrestlers," she said.
The wrestlers, who have been sitting in protest at Delhi's Jantar Mantar, are demanding the arrest of Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Singh who, they alleged, sexually harassed several women grapplers. Several Opposition parties, including the Congress, have extended their support to the protesting wrestlers.
(With inputs from PTI)