Babita Phogat has tried to weaken our protest, says Sakshi Malik

New Delhi, Jun 18 (PTI) Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik on Sunday accused BJP leader and former Commonwealth Games gold medallist grappler Babita Phogat of trying to use the wrestlers for selfish motive and weaken their protest.

Sakshi and her husband Satyawart Kadian had also posted a video on Saturday alleging that it was Babita and another BJP leader Teerath Rana who had initially taken permission for the grapplers to protest at Jantar Mantar but later started advising them that the platform should not be used by parties for political purposes.

Rana, however, said that neither he or Babita tried to initially instigate the protest and then weaken it, saying the wrestlers are the pride of the nation and the respect of the sportspersons is uppermost on the mind of the BJP.

“Look, wrestlers are the pride of the nation and the respect of sportspersons is uppermost on the mind of the BJP, and I also respect them a lot. I have always supported sportspersons,” said Rana in a video.

The country’s top wrestlers including Sakshi, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia have accused outgoing Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexual harassment and demanded his arrest.

Satyawart and Sakshi also furnished a letter, which allegedly showed Babita and Rana had taken permission from the Jantar Mantar police station for the wrestlers to stage a sit-in.

Sakshi, in a tweet on Sunday, wrote, “In the video (posted on Saturday), we had taunted Teerath Rana and Babita Phogat that how they were trying to use wrestlers for their selfishness and how when the wrestlers were in trouble, they went and sat on the lap of the government.

“We are definitely in trouble, but our sense of humour should not become so weak that we cannot even laugh at the jokes of the powerful,” she added.

Rana, however, denied allegations that he had used the wrestlers for selfish motives.

“The wrestlers came and met me (before staging the protest) and they told us that they were being exploited. We said we are with our sisters and daughters. I am with the athletes in the fight for justice. I was there with them before and am now as well,” added Rana.

In April, Vinesh — one of the three top wrestlers leading the protest against Brij Bhushan — had also requested her cousin Babita “to not weaken our movement” by issuing contradictory statements on social media.

Satyawart, a heavy-weight wrestler, has said their fight is apolitical and not against the government.

“We are protesting for the last several months demanding the arrest of outgoing WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh because he has sexually harassed women wrestlers.

“A narrative is being created in public that our movement is politically motivated. Everyone knows that we initially came to the protest site at Jantar Matar in January and the permission for the protest was taken by two BJP leaders.

“We have proof of the permission taken from Jantar Mantar police station. It was taken by BJP leaders Teerth Rana and Babita Phogat,” he said.

Rana denied having said that there would be violence if the wrestlers drowned their Olympic medals in river Ganga at Haridwar.

A day after they were detained by police for trying to march towards the new Parliament building on its inauguration date, the protesting wrestlers wrestlers reached Haridwar to drown their medals but were persuaded not to do so amid chaotic scenes.

“Well, there was no such talk that it (drowning of medals) would lead to violence. There was anger among the sportspersons and they took a decision that they would drown their medals in river Ganga…but the country’s sentiments were that the athletes should not take such a step,” added Rana.

Source: PTI News


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