Protesting Wrestlers Hand Over Medals to Tikait Instead of Immersion: Demand Justice
May 30, 2023:
In a recent development, wrestlers protesting against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the chief of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), have decided not to immerse their medals in the Ganga as initially planned. The decision came after Naresh Tikait, a prominent farmers' leader, arrived at Har Ki Pauri ghat in Haridwar and persuaded the wrestlers to reconsider their decision.
Instead of immersing the medals, the wrestlers handed them over to Naresh Tikait, the President of Bharatiya Kisan Union. However, they put forth a condition that Tikait should assist them in obtaining "justice" by ensuring the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh within five days. Renowned wrestlers like Vinesh Phogat, Sakshee Malik, Bajrang Punia, and others have accused Singh of sexually harassing young talents, leading to their demand for his arrest.
Before Tikait's arrival, the Ganga Sabha, responsible for managing affairs related to the holy river, issued a directive against the immersion of medals. The wrestlers had chosen Har Ki Pauri, a revered location on the banks of the Ganga in Haridwar, to bid farewell to their medals. The event coincided with Ganga Dussehra in Haridwar, attracting a significant crowd eager to witness the wrestlers' symbolic gesture.
In a heartfelt statement shared on her Twitter handle, Vinesh Phogat expressed the importance of the medals, stating, "These medals are our life and soul. We were planning to immerse them in the Ganges as she is Maa Ganga. After that, there is no purpose in living, so we will go on a hunger strike until death at India Gate."
The wrestlers associated India Gate with the sacrifices made by martyrs for the nation. Sakshi Malik, a bronze medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, tweeted, "India Gate is the place of those martyrs who sacrificed themselves for the country. Although we are not as holy as them, our emotions while competing at the international level resemble those of the soldiers."
Earlier, three wrestlers, Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia, were detained by Delhi Police during their march towards the newly inaugurated Parliament building for a planned women's 'Mahapanchayat.' Subsequently, FIRs were filed against the wrestlers for breaching law and order.
The situation escalated when the wrestlers and their supporters clashed with the police after being denied permission to proceed towards the new Parliament building. They were then taken to different locations in the national capital before eventually being released. Later, the police cleared the protest site, removing the wrestlers' belongings, including cots, mattresses, coolers, fans, and tarpaulin ceilings.