FIR Filed Against Wrestlers for 'Rioting' and 'Unlawful Assembly'
New Delhi, May 29, 2023: On a dramatic day in the capital, India's top wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia, who attempted to march towards the new Parliament building on Sunday, were initially detained and later had FIRs filed against them by the Delhi Police for breaching law and order. The protest site at Jantar Mantar was also cleared by the police.
According to reports, the wrestlers have been charged with various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including 147, 149, 186, 188, 332, 353, and Section 3 of the PDPP Act.
The wrestlers did not have permission to approach the new Parliament building, which had been inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi just hours earlier. When the police stopped them, a violent clash ensued.
The heavy-handed action against India's top athletes drew condemnation from opposition political leaders and a few sports personalities, including Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Neeraj Chopra, as distressing scenes of wrestlers being dragged by security forces unfolded. The wrestlers and their supporters breached the security cordon as they marched towards the new Parliament building for the planned women's 'Mahapanchayat.'
A tweet from Sakshi Malik's team confirmed that the wrestler had been detained by the Delhi Police.
Videos emerged showing a scuffle between protesters and police personnel, with the former resisting the attempts to disperse them. In one video, female police officers can be seen forcefully removing a woman from the protest site.
The wrestlers, who were protesting at Jantar Mantar, approximately two kilometers away from the parliament building, had vowed to proceed with their "Mahila Mahapanchayat" near the new structure regardless of the obstacles.
"Mahapanchayat will be held today. We are fighting for our self-respect. They are inaugurating the new Parliament building today but are suppressing democracy in the country. We appeal to the authorities to release our detained comrades," stated wrestler Bajrang Punia.
However, the police made it clear that no protesters would be allowed to approach the new building, as permission had not been granted for the "Mahila Mahapanchayat."
"We respect our athletes, but we will not tolerate any disruptions during the inauguration of the new parliament building," said Dependra Pathak, Special CP, Law and Order, to PTI.
Sakshi Malik had previously reached out to the international community, appealing for their support for the protesting wrestlers.
"To all my international fraternity: Our Prime Minister is inaugurating our new parliament. However, our supporters have been arrested for standing by us. By arresting people, how can we call ourselves the 'mother of democracy'? India's daughters are in pain," she tweeted.
Vinesh Phogat also echoed the sentiments expressed by her fellow wrestler.