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A blast from past on cards

Wrestlers to bring back Tikri, Singhu, Ghazipur border flashpoints into focus for mahapanchayat

A blast from past on cards

Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat address a press conference. TRIBUNE PHOTO: MUKESH AGGARWAL



Tribune News Service

Vinayak Padmadeo

New Delhi, May 26

Without saying much, the protesting wrestlers have said enough. Having reached the conclusion that the government is shielding the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh — who has been accused of sexually harassing female wrestlers — they are now thinking of taking on the government.

If he (Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh) is in the new Parliament then the nation will get the message. Then we do not have to say anything but our country will know (who is supporting whom). Vinesh Phogat

We will start the march towards the Parliament by 11:30am. I want to request those attending to stay peaceful even if the police resort to lathi charge or tear gas. If they want to arrest us then let them. Sakshi Malik

Having announced a women’s mahapanchayat for Sunday, Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia said the ‘Mahila Samman Mahapanchayat’ will start from the old flashpoints of the farm protest days – Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur border.

“Mahila Samman Mahapanchayat will be held on May 28. Haryana and Punjab Jathebandi will reach Singhu border. Khaps and toll committees will reach Tikri, while farm unions from Uttar Pradesh will assemble at Ghazipur,” Sakshi said today.

“We will start the march towards parliament by 11:30am. I want to request those attending to stay peaceful even if the police resort to lathi-charge or tear gas. If they want to arrest us, then let them,” she added.

Vinesh was more forthright. “We are opposing those who are supporting Brij Bhushan. I cannot say clearly that our Prime Minister is saving him as I do not know what is happening internally (in the government). But someone within the government is trying to save him and it is not a good message to the daughters and women of this country,” the two-time World Championships medallist said.

“There are a lot of allegations against him and if people like him will go to the parliament, one can imagine where this country is headed,” she added.

‘No permission’

As of now, the wrestlers have not received permission to hold the mahapanchayat, which is likely to be held near the Rail Bhawan. It is unlikely that the police will allow such a congregation near the new parliament building, which will be inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi the same day.

However, the wrestlers think there is still a chance they could get the permission; if not, they will be congregating in the vicinity of the parliament.

“If they do not allow us to go then we will sit and hold the panchayat. Anyway, we are sitting here (Jantar Mantar) for over a month now. The plan is to try and go towards the parliament and we will not get worked up and if police takes any action against us, it will be shown live to the country,” Vinesh explained. “If someone amongst us does a mischief, we will stop it. We want it to be peaceful. The same people who had protested for 13 months against the farm laws are here as well.”

“Police have not given us permission to sit here and as per rule they can detain us, but we are sitting here, right?” she added. “The laws are for the citizens. I know Sunday is a big day for the Prime Minister but then someone has to fight for justice.”

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