If no resolution, grapplers won’t attend Asian Games
Fissures? Sakshi, Bajrang differ on ‘missing’ Vinesh
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 10
Days after they temporarily suspended their agitation, the protesting wrestlers alleged on Saturday that WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was using his influence to pressure the seven women grapplers, who had accused him of sexual harassment, to withdraw their complaints or retract from statements.
Bajrang getting calls
The minor’s father was under pressure. Bajrang too is getting calls bik jao, toot jao (take bribe, end protest). Wrong narratives are being set (by media). It breaks our hearts. That’s why we said first arrest him (WFI chief) and then investigate. If he is in custody, he can’t pressurise us. Till he is out, an atmosphere of terror will remain. Sakshi Malik
Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik said efforts were being made to “break” them. “It’s proved, the statements were recorded under Sections 161 and 164 and these changed. We can’t understand why,” asked Sakshi, referring to the withdrawal of sexual harassment charges by a minor, who is one of the seven complainants in the two FIRs lodged with the Delhi Police. Brij Bhushan has denied the allegations on several occasions. Sakshi said they would not compete in Asian Games until a “resolution” came out in the case. “You can’t understand the mental agony we are going through daily,” she said. The government had assured the wrestlers that a chargesheet would be filed against the Wrestling Federation of India chief by June 15 and elections to the WFI would be held by the month-end, following which they had halted their protest.
At a ‘panchayat’ called in Sonepat today to apprise their supporters of the talks they had with Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Wednesday, the wrestlers threatened to resume their stir if “strong action” was not taken against Brij Bhushan by June 15. Bajrang insisted that no politics was involved in their protest. Speaking to The Tribune, Jitendra Kinha, a close associate of Bajrang, said, “We have seen what happened to the POCSO complainant. Her father has gone on record to say he and his family have been pressured. They have changed their statements.... Sakshi too has been getting calls for a compromise.”
Kinha said if the chargesheet was not strong enough to arrest the WFI chief, a BJP MP, they would resume their protest with the help of khaps and other organisations. While most of the representatives agreed with the wrestlers, there were a few who questioned them on their meetings — first with Home Minister Amit Shah and then the Sports Minister.
Baliyan khap leader and Bhartiya Kisan Union president Naresh Tikait and his national spokesperson-brother Rakesh Tikait skipped the meeting, so did wrestler Vinesh Phogat, a prominent face of the protest. “Some of us had doubts after their meetings with Shah and Anurag… things are clear now. Bajrang clarified they have not sold themselves, and that the protest will restart with equal vigour if a strong chargesheet isn’t filed,” said Surinder Singh Solanki, the head of Palam 360 Khap.
Asked about Vinesh, who was not part of the discussions with Anurag too, both Bajrang and Sakshi gave different answers. “Let me tell you that Sakshi, Bajrang and Vinesh are one. Vinesh is handling the legal issue... there are lots of other works as well. Rumours are being spread we are stepping back. We are one, we are united,” said Sakshi.
Bajrang said, “Vinesh is unwell and that’s why she is not here today.” Both Bajrang and Sakshi criticised the Delhi Police for taking one of the victims to WFI office in New Delhi when Brij BHushan was also present on the premises. “How fair is that you take a girl there to re-create the scene when that man is there inside? You can understand the mental pressure she would have felt,” said Bajrang.
A few media outlets suggested that the wrestler reached the WFI office to work out a compromise and Sakshi denounced it. “I request not to spread wrong news. We are getting support, do not mislead. We are working hard, we break every day. Then we lift our spirits. If you can’t support us, at least don’t spread wrong information,” she concluded. (With inputs)
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