IntersectionalityGender Dauntless And Determined: Wrestlers’ Long Fight For Dignity

Dauntless And Determined: Wrestlers’ Long Fight For Dignity

The United World Wrestling has criticised the "lack of results" in the investigations against Bhushan and has reminded IOA of their promise from April to conduct the WFI election within 45 days. 

Talk about Beti Bachao movement that’s meant to save the women but what we are we doing if we can’t even give them a basic democratic right of being heard,” says swimmer Nisha Millet in a conversation with FII. “Is this country under dictatorship?” wrote Sakshi Malik in her tweet after mentioning how it took the Delhi police seven days to register an FIR (First information report) against Brij Bhushan while it didn’t even take them seven hours to file the report against the protestors. Wrestlers demanding the arrest of their president Brij Bhushan who is accused of sexually harassing women wrestlers have been recently manhandled by the Delhi Police during their peaceful protest

While Mr. Modi was busy inaugurating the new parliament building without the presence of the President and most of the opposition, many of the protesting wrestlers were briefly detained by Delhi Police and their campsite was cleared after they tried to move towards India’s new parliament building. 

Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, and Asian Games champion Vinesh Phogat along with other protesters were booked for rioting and obstructing public servants in the discharge of duty after confronting the security personnel. The Delhi Police cleared off tents, mattresses, and every other item from the protest site at the Jantar Mantar on Sunday. 

Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, and Asian Games champion Vinesh Phogat along with other protesters were booked for rioting and obstructing public servants in the discharge of duty after confronting the security personnel. The Delhi Police cleared off tents, mattresses, and every other item from the protest site at the Jantar Mantar on Sunday. 

Source: India TV News

The treatment that the wrestlers have received from the central government and state officials has shaken the entire nation. While these wrestlers who have represented India on international platforms and have brought accolades for the nation have been treated badly, BJP MP Brij Bhusan was cordially invited to the new parliament inauguration. 

Wrestlers have been on a dharna at Jantar Mantar since April 23 demanding the arrest of BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. After the disturbing incident on Sunday, wrestlers on Tuesday released a statement, that was to throw their medals into the Ganga River in Haridwar. 

They said in a statement, that they had first considered returning their medals to the president and the prime minister but were disappointed that they had not spoken about the protests even once. They further added, ‘These medals are our life and soul… We feel there’s no meaning to having these medals around our necks anymore’.

Source: BBC

However, they were convinced by influential farming group Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Naresh Tikait to not throw the medals in Ganga yet. Naresh Tikait informed the press that he was giving five days to the government to take action. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and The United World Wrestling have condemned the way India’s wrestlers were treated. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and The United World Wrestling have condemned the way India’s wrestlers were treated. 

While IOC has demanded an investigation on sexual harassment accusations raised by the Indian wrestlers against Mr. Bhushan, the United World Wrestling has criticised the “lack of results” in the investigations against Bhushan and has reminded IOA of their promise in April to conduct the WFI election within 45 days. 

We, as a nation, should come together in support of the wrestlers. If this Gunda behaviour by the right-wing BJP party and his MP continues, then it will shake the democratic power of the country. From AAP to Congress, many opposition parties have come forward in support of the wrestlers. Opposition parties have slammed the Centre for not taking action against Bhushan. 

Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal on Wednesday slammed the government over the issue of charges of sexual harassment by women wrestlers against the WFI president Brij Bhushan Singh and asked whether POCSO and immediate arrest apply to all accused other than Singh because he belongs to the BJP. 

Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal on Wednesday slammed the government over the issue of charges of sexual harassment by women wrestlers against the WFI president Brij Bhushan Singh and asked whether POCSO and immediate arrest apply to all accused other than Singh because he belongs to the BJP. 

Trinamool Congress spokesperson Saket Gokhale filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission accusing the Delhi Police of “brutally manhandling and assaulting the unarmed and peacefully protesting wrestlers”. In a tweet, Mr. Gokhale said that he had filed the complaint on behalf of his party.

The treatment of wrestlers by Delhi Police on Sunday has received a lot of criticism from people from the sports fraternity including Javelin champion Neeraj Chopra, former shooter Abhinav Bindra, Footballer Sunil Chhetri, boxer Vijendra Singh, and cricketer Anil Kumble. 

Vijendra Singh said, ‘I am with women wrestlers. If need be, I will even give up my medal’. 

Contrastingly, a lot of cricketers, the people in the field of sports who hold strong influence over the public, have not said anything on the issue. 

We all stand with the wrestlers. The whole country stands with them. I think it is ridiculous that Mr. Brij Bhushan who is a sitting MP has been allowed to get away free and the girls who are protesting peacefully, sitting out in the rains… these are Olympians, world champions, and younger wrestlers who have been brought to life with these serious crimes taking place and there’s a minor also involved.

Olympic and former swimming champion Nisha Millet

In an interview with FII, Olympic and former swimming champion Nisha Millet said that “We all stand with the wrestlers. The whole country stands with them. I think it is ridiculous that Mr. Brij Bhushan who is a sitting MP has been allowed to get away free and the girls who are protesting peacefully, sitting out in the rains… these are Olympians, world champions, and younger wrestlers who have been brought to life with these serious crimes taking place and there’s a minor also involved.

Source: Yahoo News

These girls have been arrested, manhandled in public and all they are trying to do is get their voice heard. I think it’s about time government hears their voices, IOA hears their voice. Even International Wrestling Federation have made it very clear that they want to see some action that’s taking place. Now Brij Bhushan was called as a special invitee down the road to the new parliament and here the girls who were called to PM’s house for dinner after they won medals for the country are treated this way. It’s shameful. That means Everything that has been done is for publicity’s sake. They don’t really care about their daughters. They talked about the beti bachao movement that’s meant to save the women but what we are we doing if we can’t even give them a basic democratic right of being heard? Free speech to highlight some wrongdoing.

The only good thing now is that the whole country has taken notice. A lot of athletes are supporting wrestlers and I think a lot more should do that as well including ex and current athletes. We all have to speak out against the injustice. Like the wrestlers, the whole country should not rest till we see the perpetrators are being tied for crimes they are accused of,” Nisha Adds.

As a mother of two young kids who are getting into competitive swimming and similarly you want to know that all the young girls who are getting into different sports including wrestling, girls and boys are protected from any kind of sexual harassment. There needs to be a special code that’s brought up. Maybe a special branch that looks into crimes like this. Because this is happening in different sports, at different levels, to different age groups. And not just to the girls but to young boys also. We need to ensure that this doesn’t happen. Sports people don’t need to go to the extend to immerse their hard-earned Olympic medals in the Ganga river just to explain people how serious the issue is.

Olympic and former swimming champion Nisha Millet

On the future of sports in India, she further added, “As a mother of two young kids who are getting into competitive swimming and similarly you want to know that all the young girls who are getting into different sports including wrestling, girls and boys are protected from any kind of sexual harassment. There needs to be a special code that’s brought up. Maybe a special branch that looks into crimes like this. Because this is happening in different sports, at different levels, to different age groups. And not just to the girls but to young boys also. We need to ensure that this doesn’t happen. Sports people don’t need to go to the extend to immerse their hard-earned Olympic medals in the Ganga river just to explain people how serious the issue is.” 

This is the new low for Mr. Modi and the BJP. It is nothing short of heartbreaking to see the wrestlers, the same people who bought pride in the country being treated like dirt while Mr. Prime Minister continues to protect their sexual harasser.

If anything positive has come out of it, it is that more and more people have now realised what BJP and Mr. Modi are all about. And, I believe, it is the most crucial step for us all if we want to remain a democracy: To reunite and call out Mr. Modi and his party’s bluff. It is to know when he’s turning us against each other or when he is distracting us from a real issue with his religious agendas.

If we want to protect our women from sexual harassment and encourage participation in sports, we all need to stand up for the injustice on the wrestlers protesting for a highly important cause. 

Source: Twitter

The courage that our wrestlers have shown is commendable and crucial that we support them in this difficult time when the Prime Minister of India has turned his back on them to protect his MP.

No one should be denied the basic democratic right to speech, let alone the top wrestlers of our country. Though it’s expected from Mr. Modi to continue to support his Gunda MP, it’s a shame as the Prime Minister of a democracy like India to be taking these steps. 


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