Protesting wrestlers detained for violation of law and order, police clear protest site at Jantar Mantar

New Delhi, May 28 (PTI) In what could bring about a forceful end to the wrestlers’ protest at Jantar Mantar, the Delhi police on Sunday detained Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia for violation of law and order after they breached the security cordon while trying to move towards the new Parliament building for a planned women’s ‘Mahapanchayat’.

Immediately after the wrestlers were pushed into buses and taken to different locations, the police officers began clearing the protest site by removing the cots, mattresses, coolers, fans and the tarpaulin ceiling along with other belongings of the grapplers.

It seems the police will not allow the wrestlers back to the protest site.

Special Commissioner of Police (law and order) Dependra Pathak claimed the protesters ignored repeated requests and warnings and “wrestled” with police personnel who tried to stop them. He said an FIR will be filed against the protesters.

“They were out to disturb the preparations made by security agencies,” the senior police officer told PTI.

“The detained protesting wrestlers will not be allowed to continue with their dharna at Jantar Mantar. The entire protest venue at Jantar Mantar has been cleared,” Pathak said.

Sakshi though asserted that their protest is not yet over.

“Our protest is not over yet. We will resume our agitation at Jantar Mantar after being released by police. This country will not accept dictatorship but women’s satyagrah,” Malik tweeted.

“Never thought a day will come when we will have to fight on streets for justice after fighting on the mat for medals. This country’s daughters are strong, if they can win medals on foreign soil, then definitely they will not stop until the battle on the home soil is won,” Malik wrote in another tweet and posted contrasting videos of her Olympic medal ceremony and Sunday’s scuffle with police.

Punia, while still in detention, tweeted, “I am still in police custody. No one is telling me what’s happening. Have I committed any crime? It should be Brij Bhushan who should be in police custody not us.” The police had warned the wrestlers not to move towards the Parliament but they went ahead, leading to the scuffle.

The champion wrestlers had resumed their agitation against Wresting 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.

CHAOS AND CRIES ============ Chaotic scenes were witnessed at Jantar Mantar as wrestlers and police officers shoved and pushed each other when Vinesh, her cousin sister Sangeeta Phogat and Sakshi tried to breach the barricades.

Vinesh provided a strong resistance against her detention and Sangeeta clung on to her cousin sister while lying on the road as the struggle continued for a few dramatic minutes.

The police officials dragged and lifted them into buses along with several other wresters and their supporters.

Pathak had urged the wrestlers to not indulge in anti-national activities on the “historic day” of inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Today is the inauguration of our new Parliament. It is an important day for our country and proud moment. So any type of agitation or march on this day is anti-national. No way Delhi Policy can afford any lapse. We respect and love our athletes but can’t allow any untoward incident,” he said.

The protesting wrestlers and their supporters were taken to different locations in the national capital.

While Bajrang has been detained at a police station near Mayur Vihar, Sakshi is in Burari. Vinesh and Sangeeta were taken to Kalkaji.

HEIGHTENED SECURITY =============== The Delhi Police had beefed up security at Jantar Mantar following the wrestlers’ call for a ‘Mahila Samman Mahapanchayat’ before the new Parliament Building on Sunday.

A teary-eyed Vinesh later said from a bus that they are being punished for demanding justice.

“The accused is roaming free. He is being given shelter by the government and athletes who won medals for the country are now being put in jail for demanding justice for the country’s daughters,” Vinesh said.

“Welcome to the new country,” she quipped from the bus window.

Bajrang feels grave injustice was being meted out to them for demanding justice.

“The accused has such audacity that he is talking about changing the POCSO Act and you are doing nothing against him and here are athletes who are demanding justice with folded hands and you are ill-treating them,” he said.

“Over 2000 of our supporters were detained. Everywhere dictatorship is going on.” Later, he tweeted, “Does any government treat the champions of the country like this? What crime have we committed?” Sakshi also took to twitter to vent out her anger against the government and the Delhi police.

“This is how our champions are being treated. The world is watching us! Sexual abuser goon Brij Bhushan is sitting in the Parliament today and we are being dragged on the road. Sad day for Indian sports,” the Olympic medallist wrote.

“Was it a crime to bring medals for the country? if yes, then hang us,” she added.

Ironically, both Bajrang and Vinesh were detained just metres away from Brij Bhushan’s official residence at 21, Ashoka Road.

Thousands of police personnel were deployed and multiple layers of barricades were in place in the Lutyens’ Delhi area. The wrestlers, staging a sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar which is about two kilometres from the Parliament building, had said they would go ahead with their ‘mahapanchayat’ at any cost.

The agitating wrestlers, including the likes of Olympic medallists Bajranj, Sakshi and Asian Games gold winner Vinesh, have been demanding the arrest of the outgoing WFI president.

The wrestlers had said that use of force by police would not deter them from going ahead with their peaceful march and the ‘mahapanchayat’.

In a video shared by the wrestlers, Sakshi’s husband Satyawart Kadian and Jiternder Kinha were seen shouting the slogan ‘Inqalab Jindabad’ from inside the bus, as the police vehicle whisked them away.

Source: PTI News


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