Wrestlers protesting against WFI travel to Haryana, Punjab for support

Wrestlers' Protest: Vinesh, Bajrang and other key members of agitation travel to Haryana, Punjab for support

Wrestlers Satyawart Kadian, Vinesh Phogat, Sangita Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia with supporters during their candlelight protest march at India Gate, New Delhi on 23 May. PTI

Key members of the ongoing wrestlers’ protests against Wrestling Federation of India (WF) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh have decided to travel to parts of Haryana and Punjab to gather support for the planned women’s Mahapanchayat later this month.

While Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat have decided to travel to Jind, Haryana, Sakshi Malik was headed for Punjab with wrestler husband Satyawart Kadian to garner support for the Mahapanchayat that they have planned to host in front of the new Parliament building on the day of it inauguration on Sunday, 28 May.

Wrestler Sangeeta Phogat, a member of the renowned Phogat wrestling family, is currently holding fort at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar and said Vinesh and other key members of the protest were meeting with khap leaders to decide to future course of action.

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“Vinesh and Bajrang are meeting khap leaders in Jind and Sakshi and Satyawart are in Punjab to seek more support for our Maha Panchayat on May 28. We are determined to hold the panchayat near new Parliament building if our demand for the arrest of Brij Bhushan is not met,” Sangeeta was quoted as saying according to PTI.

The country’s top wrestlers have accused Brij Bhushan, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda, of sexually harassing several female wrestlers, including a minor.

The grapplers had initially staged a protest at Jantar Mantar in January, and returned to the same site three months later on 23 April after complaining of lack of action in the matter. Their second round of protests has since led to the Delhi Police filing two different FIRs against Brij Bhushan, although only after the Supreme Court’s intervention, as well as the formation of an ad-hoc committee by the Indian Olympic Association that has taken over the functioning of the WFI.

The grapplers however, insist they will continue with their protests until Brij Bhushan is put behind bars, and had recently visited several parts of the national capital, including Connaught Place, the Bangla Sahib Gurdwara and Rajghat to gather support for their protests. They had also conducted a candle-light march to India Gate on 23 May to mark one month of their protests.

Brij Bhushan has categorically denied any allegation of wrongdoing, although he recently agreed to undergo a lie-detector test provided Vinesh and Bajrang also underwent the same.

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