Naresh Tikait Intervenes And Prevents Wrestlers From Immersing Medals, Secures 5 Days Time To Resolve Issue

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) chief Naresh Tikait has taken medals from the protesting wrestlers after securing five days time to resolve the situation.

Protesting wrestlers sit at Har ki Pauri, in Haridwar district, Tuesday, May 30, 2023. (PTI Photo)

Farmer leader and Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) chief Naresh Tikait intervened and prevented the protesting wrestlers from immersing their medals in Ganga River in Haridwar on Tuesday evening. 

Earlier, protesting wrestlers had reached Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar to immerse their medals in Ganga Rivers. Later, Tikait reached the site where protesting wrestlers had gathered at Har ki Pauri and secured a five-day period to resolve the situation.

Top Indian wrestlers have been protesting for weeks against alleged sexual harassment by wrestling body chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and inaction over their complaints. Singh is a Member of Parliament from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

In visuals from Haridwar, Tikait is seen taking medals from the wrestlers and saying that a collective decision will be taken after five days, indicating that khap panchayats --influential sociopolitical organisations in Western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana-- could also get involved in the issue. 

Following their clash with the Delhi Police on Sunday, the wrestlers earlier on Tuesday said they would immerse their medals in Ganga as medals around their necks "no longer have any meaning". After the immersion, they would hold a hunger strike at Delhi's India Gate. 

Earlier visuals from Haridwar showed wrestlers arriving at Har Ki Pauri and sitting in apparent emotional distress. A crowd of their supporters formed a cordon around them amid increased security arrangement by authorities. 

The protesting wrestlers include Olympics bronze medalist Sakshee Malikkh, Commonwealth Games medalist Vinesh Phogat, Olymbics bronze medalist Bajrang Punia. Earlier on Sunday, the wrestlers were manhandled by Delhi Police at a protest march.

After their meeting with Tikait, visuals showed protesting wrestlers leaving the site.

Wrestlers at Haridwar to immerse medals 

The country's top wrestlers, including Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia, along with hundreds of their supporters, reached Har ki Pauri to immerse their medals in the Ganga River earlier on Tuesday evening.

A huge crowd gathered in Har ki Pauri as the protesting wrestlers got ready to immerse their world and Olympic medals in the holy waters as a mark of protest against outgoing Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over allegations of sexual harassment.

Sakshi, Vinesh, and her cousin Sangeeta were seen sobbing as their husbands tried to console them even as scores of their supporters formed a cordon around them. The wrestlers stood for about 20 minutes in silence after reaching Har ki Pauri. They then sat on the banks of the river holding their citations and looking emotionally distressed.

In a letter shared on social media, the wrestlers said they would hold a hunger strike at Delhi's India Gate after immersing their medals.

Hunger strike at Delhi's India Gate

The wrestlers, who were detained by Delhi Police and removed from their Jantar Mantar protest site on May 28, said they will immerse their medals and sit on a hunger strike "until death" at the India Gate.

"Medals are our life and soul. After immersing them in Ganga, our lives would have no meaning...Ater immersing them, we would sit on a hunger strike at India Gate," said the wrestlers in their letter.

Comparing themselves to the fallen soldiers honoured at the India Gate, the wrestlers said, "India Gate is for those martyrs who gave up their life for the nation. We are not that holy but we also had a feeling like soldiers when we played at the international stage."

However, the Delhi Police said on Tuesday that they will not be allowed to protest at India Gate as it is a "national monument and not a site for demonstrations".

Earlier, Sakshi said as the "system kept trying to scare the victims and stop the protest" instead of "catching the harasser", the wrestlers felt the medals have no value and wanted to return them. She wished president Draupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed the issue.

"We don't want these medals now because by making us wear them this shiny system is using it as a mask for its own publicity while exploiting us. If we speak against this exploitation, it prepares to send us to jail," she said.

The scuffle with Delhi Police

On May 28, Delhi Police detained Malik along with world championships bronze winner Vinesh and Olympic medallist Bajrang, and later filed FIRs against the wrestlers for violation of law and order.

Unprecedented scenes of police dragging the Olympic and world championships medal-winning players were witnessed when the wrestlers and their supporters breached the security cordon ahead of their march towards the new Parliament building for the planned women's 'Mahapanchayat'.

The wrestlers did not have permission to move towards the new Parliament building, hours after it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and when they were stopped by police, a scuffle broke out.

The protesting wrestlers and their supporters were taken to different locations in the national capital before they were released. The police officers later cleared the protest site by removing the cots, mattresses, coolers, fans and the tarpaulin ceiling along with other belongings of the grapplers.


Sakshi said the women wrestlers felt there's nothing left for them in this country as the "system has treated them cheaply".

She said, "We're reminded of the moment when we won Olympic and world championships medals. Now we feel why we won them, did we win them so that the system behaves so cheaply with us? They dragged us and then made us criminals.The way police behaved with us, how they arrested us with cruelty. We were doing our peaceful protest. Our protest site was also destroyed and snatched from us by the police. And the next day they lodged an FIR against us. Have the women wrestlers committed a crime by asking for justice after being sexually harassed? Police and system are behaving like we are criminals, whereas the actual harasser is making fun of us. They are making women wrestlers uncomfortable and laughing at them."


(With PTI inputs)