India’s top wrestlers, including renowned Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh Phogat, have been staging a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi for the past 24 days. They are demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the former chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). Singh is accused of sexually harassing seven women wrestlers, including a minor.
In a bid to intensify their agitation and make it a “national movement,” the wrestlers are considering shifting their protest to the larger venue of Ram Lila ground. This suggestion was put forth by Chandrashekhar Azad, the president of Bhim Army, who joined the wrestlers at Jantar Mantar on Monday evening. Azad emphasized the need to amplify the protest’s impact by moving to Ram Lila ground after May 21, which is the deadline set by the khap panchayats for the government to take action against Singh.
Sakshi Malik, one of the prominent wrestlers involved in the protest, expressed the need for discussions among the wrestlers regarding the potential move. While the decision is yet to be finalized, the wrestlers are contemplating whether to shift the entire protest or continue demonstrations at both Jantar Mantar and Ram Lila ground.
On Monday, Vinesh Phogat raised concerns about feeling restricted and marginalized at Jantar Mantar, hinting at the possibility of agitating at different locations. She also alleged that the wrestlers were being stalked at the current protest site. Despite the ad hoc committee formed by the Indian Olympic Association taking charge of the national federation from WFI officials, the wrestlers remain steadfast in their demand for the arrest of Brij Bhushan Singh.
Chandrashekhar Azad, in his speech, acknowledged the wrestlers’ struggle and pledged unwavering support. However, he stressed that the wrestlers themselves must decide on the future course of action on May 21. Azad recognized that the protest at Jantar Mantar alone might not have a significant impact on the government, thus urging the wrestlers to consider expanding the movement.
In their pursuit to raise awareness about the alleged harassment faced at the hands of Brij Bhushan Singh, the wrestlers organized a march at Connaught Place on Monday. On Tuesday, they continued their efforts by conducting a procession from Jantar Mantar to Hanuman temple near Connaught Place.
Additionally, the wrestlers have plans to make their protest global by reaching out to Olympic medallists and athletes from other countries, seeking support and solidarity in their cause.
As the wrestlers deliberate on their next move, their demand for justice and accountability in the case of Brij Bhushan Singh’s alleged misconduct resonates within the wrestling community and beyond. The potential shift to Ram Lila ground could provide a larger platform for their voices to be heard and push for the necessary action against the accused former chief.